Honoring Physicians on Doctors' Day
Let's not thank physicians on this National Doctors' Day. Let's honor them instead by changing the relationship between doctors and their various constituents.
How should those relationships change? Here's a quick list.
We are all stressed these days, so these recommendations may seem challenging, but they will pay off by creating a healthier clinical workplace for everyone.
So please consider what you can do based on your role:
Administrators - doctors are knowledge workers who think for a living, innovate constantly throughout the day (each patient is different), know more than you do about the work they do, and are the lynchpin to revenue production. They can't be "managed" like a production line worker. They will partner when approached as true partners. So don't demand increased productivity, instead empower them and align around your shared mission and goals. Take that risk. It will be worth it. I've always been glad I did.
Patients - Most patients remain grateful for the care their doctor gives them. Burned out physicians often wonder if they are being effective, if they are making a difference at all. It helps a lot if you let them know that you appreciate them and they are helping you. Let them know that not just today, but every time you connect, in person or online. If there is one message doctors don't mind getting through the online portal, it's a note of gratitude. And be specific. I recently thanked my ophthalmologist online for preserving my vision, without which I could live the life I love. She replied that it truly helped her that day.
Nurses/Techs/Support staff - This one is bi-directional. As clinicians, we all need to support each other. We play different roles on the same team. We all do better when we help each other and the team wins.
Colleagues - At times it's easy to get frustrated when a colleague in your own, or another, specialty doesn't seem to be holding up their part of the job, or may be acting in a way that seems more competitive than collaborative. Treat each other kindly. You never really know the burden another person is bearing.
Collectively these changes will do far more than simply saying "thank you" on this one day of the year.
In the long run, they can help power the cultural changes we need to make healthcare workplaces healthy places for clinicians to work.
Thanks for reading.
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