Our Team is Our Strength
My wife and I just returned from Wyoming for our anniversary trip.
27 years of marriage.
She tells me it feels like 27 minutes… underwater.
Who am I to argue?
Marriage is much like Primary Care.
It can be suffocating and elating, tearful and joyful.
Sometimes all in one day.
We left together and we returned together. Which is one answer to the question,
“How do you stay together for so long?”
Hang on and keep moving. Together.
The passion for marriage, much like for medicine, ebbs and flows.
So it is with tides, careers, hormones, and opinions.
Of course, the love is always there.
But at times, it’s less about love and more about holding on.
Primary care physicians are like my remarkable wife. They are very good at holding on.
Here’s another key:
(and you can forget everything else, if you just remember this)
Know that your partner makes you better.
When times are tough, when you’re tired, sad, or forgetful, turn to the ones around you.
Your team is your strength.
Some of the greatest people that I’ve ever known are physicians.
But this post is not about physicians.
It’s about the team that makes physicians better.
As our country struggles with ways to improve primary care,
we must be certain that our team is also rewarded.
We could not do what we do, as well as we do it, without these wonderful people.
Many of my patients are willing to put up with me because of the pleasant greetings that they receive from my front office staff.
My receptionist’s smile can make you feel better.
When my medical assistant reminded me about your drug allergy, she added it to your record. I looked like an attentive physician. I was attentive because she was.
It was my medical assistant that saved your life.
I am better because of my team.
I can remove your mole. Expertly. But you’ll want my assistant to draw your blood.
She has a gift. You’ll hardly feel it. She also gives much better shots than I ever could.
My nurse knew the moment she brought your husband into the exam room that he was really sick. I was with another patient, but she had the foresight to check his oxygen level. She’s very good at knowing when someone’s in trouble. She called the ambulance.
I gave her the flowers that you sent.
Oh… and about remembering the school that your son attends, which pharmacy you use, and the last time your mother in law visited you… yes, my medical assistant reminded me.
I am surrounded by dedicated and caring people. They make me better.
Our office is clean because of the delightful people that come in around 10 PM every night to clean it. Yes, I’m often here to see them. That’s a different post. You would notice if they didn’t show up. Doctors and nurses can be very messy.
Then there’s the business side of what we do. It’s called managing an office.
Somehow, a thousand times a day, our office manager does the impossible.
Orchestrating the moods and needs, complaints and requests, credits and debits
of a business wound tighter than a worn out pocket watch.
Every now and then someone says, “Thank you.”
Improving and rewarding primary care
improving and rewarding the people around us.
Independent primary care physicians
must be rewarded for providing the
foundation of our nation’s healthcare.
And that reward must be sufficient
to share with our entire team.
Our partners make us better.
By the way, when my wife comes
up to gather air for another 27 years,
I’ll be telling her “thanks” too.
There’s nobody I’d rather be underwater with.
Guy L. Culpepper, MD