My Dearest Love, Fiancé, Partner, and Best Friend,
I want you to know just how much I love you. I genuinely love you with every ounce of my body and soul. 🙂
But I worry about you. You’ve been beaten down. Your residency program doesn’t set you up to succeed. Every day, you’re overwhelmed by another ridiculous list of tasks. Constantly, relentlessly someone is seeking your attention. Then you get rushed, thrown out of a rhythm. Your superiors find fault in you, quick to criticize you for their own failure to demonstrate the path to success.
This evening, a phone call intended to bring you fresh optimism, renewal, hope…brought exactly the opposite. This doctor, whom you never met, shot down your dream clinic with a disturbing level of confidence. You tried to be polite, but I know the real you. I could FEEL your disappointment. Hoping to finally step off the treadmill, you were told that it’s impossible—an immature and idealistic dream—get over it!
It crushed me and made me cry for you.
I sit here knowing how much I love what I do as an infectious disease doc. I love the patients, the pathology, everything. It makes me happy and genuinely content with my life and career. And I know how much you love family medicine. How happy and excited you get when you talk about your country farmhouse clinic with the big garden. I imagine the wood stove crackling as a couple of cinnamon candles flicker beside you and your patient, each of you sitting on a love seat. You’re both sipping tea and just talking away like long-time friends.
Bimbo is curled up beside you while Puffy is lounging on your patient’s lap, licking a hand hoping to get a scratch on his head. Your patients love all the doggy kisses. Even the rough, gruff old men seem to soften a bit. They adore those dogs just as they do you, your kids, and me.
Now you hear the loud steps of your next patient, the diabetic contractor wearing his Timberland work boots. Remember? The one who never saw a doctor before you. You got his A1c down from 12.1 to 7.9. As always, he’s 15 minutes early so he plunks himself down into one of the wooden rocking chairs on our wrap-around, enclosed front porch with the potted flowers and gentle wind chimes. And he just rocks away until it’s his turn, as he does every time, rain or shine
This is your dream clinic. Do you see it in your mind’s eye? Do you hear the sounds? Smell the cinnamon candles? Can you feel the warmth of the stove and soft fabric of your love seat?
I so miss seeing that sparkle in your eyes. You are beyond exhausted. Lord KNOWS you have a good reason for it too. From my perspective, there’s not a damn thing you can do about it. Still you always give 100% each day so you can be the best physician, mother, fiancé, sister, and daughter.
Please…don’t let this broken system and poorly constructed program steal your dream. Don’t let physicians who are stuck in the mold, complacent, or afraid to challenge the norm discourage you. Forget them! Keep going, Every day you are one step closer to your dream.
I’m here for you. I’ll support you in every way I can. Please don’t forget that. Don’t pull away into your despair. If we have to build a shed out of donated scrap wood and furniture, plop it on the corner of the yard, with a kerosene lantern and a hand-painted sign that reads, “Your Family Doctor” then that’s what we’ll do.
I love you and can’t wait to see you in just one more day now that it’s past midnight!
Your fiancé, best friend, and colleague,
For expanded commentary on the love letter, download MP3 or listen in . . .
Pamela Wible, M.D., is a family physician who pioneered the first ideal clinic designed entirely by patients. She loves helping doctors open ideal clinics and live their dreams in medicine. Join our upcoming teleseminar to learn more.