One thing I sometimes recommend to people is that they make a gratitude list to remind themselves of all the good things that they have going on in their lives. There are several things that I am particularly aware of being grateful for this year. Probably the top 2 things are my family and the strength I have found in the Direct Primary Care community.
Most Primary Care physicians today are employed by groups or hospital systems. As a former employee, I can attest that this is a difficult spot to be these days. While as an employee I did have the relative security of having an income, I lacked much control over the process of how I cared for patients. Even though I became involved in leadership teams, I was a piece in a much larger system and did not have the authority to make many decisions. It was frustrating to have ideas about how I could better care for my patients and create a better environment to practice in, and not be allowed to implement any of my ideas for a multitude of reasons. I found out about Direct Primary Care while reading a practice management magazine – and a light bulb went off. I had a choice. Patients had a choice. There was a better way to do things.
As an independent DPC physician, I am responsible to make sure my office runs the way I want it to as well as providing excellent patient care. I am a small business owner – something I received precious little training on in residency – which was 16 years ago… I have had so much to learn in this area and I am truly thankful for those who have helped me along the way. From DPC physicians who opened their practice for me to visit them, to people who coached me on how to write a business plan and sagely advised me to make it for 3 years and not 1; from SCORE mentors advising me on commercial real estate to other members of the Chamber and BNI who have given me suggestions on marketing and bookkeeping. I am part of a tribe of over 1000 physicians nationwide who are going down parallel paths in opening independent businesses and the support we give each other through Facebook groups, and conferences has been amazing. I am blessed to have my family who has listened to my ideas, gone to conferences with me, and helps me keep things in perspective as I go through the rollercoaster of being a new business owner.
I am thankful that my mom has completed chemotherapy this month and that my sister and I are living in the same metro area for the first time in 30 years. I am thankful that my daughter is still able to enjoy her dance and that my son will be graduating from college this summer. I am thankful that my husband is able to remind me of where I have been and where I am trying to go and WHY I am going there when I get bogged down with daily challenges. And I am thankful for the unquestioning love that our furry friends give us on a daily basis.
I am privileged to be able to share people’s journey towards better physical and mental health. Patients open their lives to me and we are able to talk about their goals, dreams and hopes – and how they can try to achieve them. They share their pain and grief – and I am allowed to counsel them, or just be present with them in the moment. Being a doctor is not a matter of just writing a prescription or a referral – it is much more than this – it is a calling where one human is able to care for another to try to restore and/or maintain health – by drawing on their previous experiences, research and knowledge and melding that with what the other person wants and needs.
It has been a crazy year and I have much to be thankful for and I am looking forward to what the next year brings. It’s quite a journey! Thank you for coming on it with me!