Dear Sharon (Dobie, MD),
I received my copy of Heart Murmurs and have been reading an entry here and there. Thank you so much. It is heartening to read, actually. I often (really, every week) wonder what the heck I am doing still slogging away at Primary Care. I know it is my gift but it often seems useless. It is difficult for me here in Chicago-land where I feel Primary Care is poorly understood, respected and appreciated. It is ridiculous the amount of hooplah I must perform that does not impact my patients in the least (ordering labs this way for this insurance and that way for that insurance, clicking buttons on my computer to prove I have addressed the flu vaccine then documenting in another area so the nursing staff can find it when they have to chart reviews for the ACO we participate in) and the amount of docs who do not bother with the things that I feels can provide benefit to patients (sending notes of their consults, forwarding requested records, following evidence based screening recommendations, performing physical exams and documenting them, maintaining up-to-date medication or problem lists).
On the other hand, I realize that when I wasn’t working for the first year or so that we moved to Chicago, I really didn’t get any more done around the house, just spent more time doing it. I wasn’t any less stressed, I just stressed about different things. At least when I work, I concern myself with some things that actually have a chance of improving someone’s life.
But reading Heart Murmurs reminded me that perhaps it is important for me to practice for me, so that I will grow. I am always so conscious of how activities that my children do and how they do them or patterns/habits that we as parents require of them are helping them to grow and develop. Heart Murmurs is reminding me that I should be a doctor also because it helps me to continue to grow and develop.
Do your doctors share what they have learned from you? Likely not! With little precedent for physicians to open up about the impact their patients have on their personal development, Heart Murmurs: What Patients Teach Their Doctors breaks tradition with a collection of stories by author and editor Sharon Dobie M.D. and 35 other physicians. Aware for years that her patients taught her at least as much as she gave them, Dr. Dobie’s acknowledgement of this reciprocity led to this project. Grouped thematically, the stories encourage health care providers to think about their relationships with patients and through that reflection, to know themselves more deeply. They also take all readers from the specific to universal messages, asking all of us to see how we are changed within all relationships, doctor-patient or otherwise. These humanizing tales draw us back to basics: relationships matter for us all.