"Do you still love it?"
I was sitting in the atrium at the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum in Seattle during the national conference for ACEP* enjoying a glass of wine and some fine appetizers, so it took me a moment to think about what
my colleague was asking me. And, to be honest, I wasn't sure if I could answer her question.
I joked back, "Love is such a strong word..." But, her question really put me in a pensive mood. Did I still love it? At a time when more patients are going to the emergency department because they can't find a primary doctor, or don't have insurance or have just gotten insurance and have put off having any routine medical care until today, and at a time when government fund cutbacks mean stricter measures for payment of fees (i.e., if you don't get good patient satisfaction scores, we're not going to pay you) it's hard to be an ED doc and not develop a certain level of cynicism.
I've already written about my decision to return to Emergency Medicine after having trained in Surgery in prior posts. I wanted variety, continued challenges, the ability to go home at the end of my shift knowing I wouldn't get called back into the hospital just as I was getting settled in for the night. And, for the most part, I do enjoy my job. But there are those days when I wonder if I wouldn't be happier as a cashier... or a waitress... or....? I think about what my application would look like... Prior Work Experience: dealing daily with irrational people having unrealistic expectations and demanding all their problems get solved promptly. I guess maybe they'd tell me I was over qualified.
Then I think about those moments of pure chaos, when you weren't sure if you were making the right decision at the time, and you relied solely on pure guts and instinct with whisperings of medical knowledge; when both you and the patient came out slightly bruised and beaten on the other side but alive to fight another day. Those are the moments when you truly feel you have made a difference; that those 10 years of post-graduate education weren't a waste of time.
Those are the days when I do love my job. And, they're the ones that keep me going...
Find a job you enjoy, and you will never have to work a day in your life.
*American College of Emergency Physicians