Quest for Superdoc

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 58, No. 9, November 2016, Page 495 Editorials

Cock-a-doodle-doo! Sun rays hit the room. Max the cat is in my face whining to be let out. Baby’s foot is in my ear. Hubby is snoring. It’s 5:30 a.m. Good morning!

Here I go—hit the bamboo floors running. First sip of tea does it. Ahhh! Good morning world!

I owe, I owe, it’s off to work I go.

Love going to work. Love my assistant, Connie, who seems to know what I’m thinking at all times and is always one step ahead of me. Love the patients who ask how my day is going and how my daughter is doing (every one of them asks) and who share special tidbits of their lives.

Love going to my family home with my husband and my daughter after work a few days each week to enjoy the most amazing Indian food ever made. And to enjoy seeing the whole family, but especially the two people who got me to this point in life and who continue to be my heroes—my parents.

Then I get to go home and spend time with my beautiful fur babies and play in my garden and run around on the farm after the chickens. Occasionally I get to go for a 10 km run and throw around some weights. Hercules!

So could it get any better? Could I be doing more as a family doc? Have I failed because I’m not a full-service GP? I don’t do obstetrics and I have only associate privileges at the hospital. My dreams of being Superdoc …gone?

Back in the day docs did 24-hour call and in some places they still do. Times have changed. Expectations to have a fulfilling family life have taken precedence. But there are docs out there who still do it all. And kudos to them.

I had to come to terms with the fact that I can’t do it all. I’d love to, but there are not enough hours in the day to be Superdoc, Superwife, Supermom, Supersis, Superauntie, and Superfriend.

There is a fleeting moment of guilt when I discover that one of my patients has been admitted to the hospital—the burden on the ER and on the hospitalists, my patient seeing different docs during their hospital stay when it’s already so stressful for them. I rationalize by thinking how great our hospitalists are and how my patient is receiving the best care. But in my heart I know there is nothing like seeing your family doc while you’re in the hospital.

So I am going to start visiting my inpatients once a week. I hope to provide some emotional support to my patients and any additional information I can to the doc looking after them.

But should I feel guilty? I’ve only taken 2 weeks off this year. I have a solo family practice with no locums available. I drag around my faithful computer, with my EMR, everywhere I go, tasking every free moment I get. I do my own call and have my cellphone on me 24/7. I visit patients in their own homes. I’ve adopted the open-access model for patient care at my clinic.

One day, when my daughter is in school, I may return to hospital work. I aspire to one day joining Doctors Without Borders.

I’ve spent my whole life trying to be Super Jeeves. But now I realize my happiness and self-contentment translates into healthy relationships with my family, friends, and patients. Life is like riding a bicycle. You can coast, brake, or go full speed ahead. But you always need balance.

Jeevyn K. Chahal, MD. Quest for Superdoc. BCMJ, Vol. 58, No. 9, November, 2016, Page(s) 495 - Editorials.

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