I passed the boards, in case you were wondering. It’s a relief. I don’t have to think about that again for 10 years. Who knows, by then I may be retired. Or a famous writer. Or still doing the same thing I’m doing now, the job I love. I have found a new delightful rhythm in my work. It feels refreshing instead of draining. I am on the other side of something sinister. My steps feel lighter, my laugh less restrained, my love for this work blossoming. I have my favorite nurse back in a new place and it makes all the difference.
My husband recently said something genius, “you are only as good as your worst nurse,” and he’s so right. Physicians often feel very alone and isolated, our life and death decisions are made in our own heads, the consequences resting on our shoulders, the burdens felt in our hearts, any bad outcomes solely for our conscience, but I’m never truly alone in my work. There are so many people that I depend on and need to help me do the best job possible for the patient. I can’t do it alone. Being alone is exhausting. When the people that I need to help me do my job instead work against me, it’s a perfect storm for burnout.
A lot of the time, I get all the credit. The relationship is built predominately between me and the patient, I am the one they want to talk to on the phone, the one that gets all the accolades when things go right, the one that gets the baked cakes and Christmas cards. Like my husband said, I’m only as good as my worst nurse, and I have the best nurse, she makes me look good. She makes me a better doctor.
There have been times that I haven’t given nurses enough credit. Sure, sometimes they can be annoying, offering their own advise to patients that may not be exactly what I’d say, taking it upon themselves to diagnose an illness (thus taking away my thunder), forming their own special relationships with the patients, offering advise on tests to order, pointing out medication errors, and just plain doing a good job for the patient. For a doctor, trying to navigate a strange field where our degrees and our licenses allot us great responsibility and great rewards, but come with great sacrifices and great burdens, sometimes it is difficult to allow a nurse to have his/her say. It is hard to give them the credit that they deserve, to admit how much we need them, or to recognize the depth of knowledge, wisdom, and experience that they possess.
I have the best nurse. I know this for so many reasons, but recently it was because she showed me she cares for these patients as much as I do. When one of our patients recently passed away, we both got tears in our eyes and reminisced about him. He was just as much her patient as mine. He touched her heart and I discovered that I’m not the only one who carries the burdens of this job.
I trust her implicitly. She has the best interests of the patient at heart and therefore, my best interests. She’s my right hand. Nurses are life saving, not only for the patients, but for the doctors too. My nurse is the best. I am so grateful to work with her.