Growing up I always looked up to doctors. In fact I looked up to just about everyone older. Recently I realized that I’m older and a doctor now. In my practice I work with many different health care providers. I work with surgeons, family practice docs, OBs, physical therapists, doulas, and pain docs. I figure if I don’t know the proper place to refer you, then I need to meet a new colleague. In this field as in all fields there is some healthy competition. (There’s also some unhealthy competition too.) Because of that competition and the social aspect of looking up to doctors we all seem to put on our game face when we speak to one another. In reality none of us want to look foolish in front of another provider.
The other day I took the opportunity to observe a local Doctor of Physical Therapy. It was a great experience to see what he did. I went to see a particular treatment, as I had heard about it, but never seen it in practice. During my visit, my mind was consciously drawn to the words that we were using, and “the game.” I noticed that this doctor was fairly young not a new doctor by any means, but still new in his mind. I noticed that he was looking at me with the respect given to a doctor. He was using words that indicated that he was worried about looking foolish in front of a health care professional. In no way did he look foolish, but he was concerned about it. It brought me to look at myself.
I realized that people now look up to me the same way that I used to look up to doctors. I also realized that I am not perfect, and don’t have all the answers, yet I’m a doctor. I came to the conclusion that one of the reasons that we compete as doctors is to keep ourselves sharp, but also to buoy ourselves up. To remind us that we have a lot of responsibility on our shoulders, and it can be scary to have that when you’re not perfect. I’m a good doctor, but if I do slip up ever it will likely be one of my fellow doctors who catch it.
I’m one who says that we should work together for the good of the patient. It has always been a goal to work with other providers in that respect. But today I realize an additional benefit to working closely and associating with other providers. That nervousness, that little bit of competition can be a good thing for me. A little competition can keep me bringing my A game. It keeps me on my toes, always wanting to improve. That’s what I want to be doing anyway. Sometimes it’s just nice to recognize why.