Why do I do what I do?

At the simplest level, it is because I love what I do.  A colleague/ mentor encouraged me a few years ago, to imagine what my practice would be like if I were free to practice medicine the way I wanted to.  So I did…then I made it happen…and it has made all the difference.


I was originally drawn to medicine through my love of science… and the observation that nothing “grossed me out”.  In junior high, I contemplated psychiatry…as I enjoyed helping my friends work out their problems.  In med school I was drawn to OB and ER, but quickly realized that I do not function well in the middle of the night.  After a few weeks on my psychiatry rotation, the decision was clear.  I signed a residency contract before the start of my fourth year of medical school. 


Psychiatry embodies several aspects that I loved from ER and OB/Gyn rotations:  an ongoing relationship with patients, the opportunity to really listen and hear people, and the fact that it is never boring.  I have always loved stories… I may not be the greatest with names, but I generally remember all of the stories.


I often discuss with my patients the concept of basic human needs:  obviously food and shelter… but also intimacy, joy, and a sense of “purpose”.   My medical practice fills many of those needs in myself.  I sometimes question why being a wife and mother isn’t “good enough”, although I do believe that they are most noble and important roles… it seems to come back to the thought, “…because I know I’m supposed to be doing something more.”


A therapist who offices with me, has a verse from Galatians 6:2 on his business cards… “Bear each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ”.  I do consider my practice as my ministry.  I am blessed and honored by these people who trust me with their wounded souls and chaotic lives.  I do not take my responsibility lightly; I continually look for ways that I can facilitate relief from their suffering.


My patients sometimes remark, “How can you do this?  How can you listen to these stories all day?” I guess it comes to down to my steadfast and stubborn belief that things can get better.  I was once afraid to share this optimism with patients. Now I realize that giving someone hope and the assurance that they don’t have to go down the path alone, can be very powerful medicine.

~ by drdymphna on July 28, 2008.

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