Monday, July 11, 2011

Being in the hospital reminds me why I don't miss working in the hospital

Recently, I was in the hospital because my wife delivered our 3rd baby! The last time I was in the hospital was almost two years ago when we had our 2nd baby.

Each time I spend time in a hospital, I'm reminded about the reasons why I no longer miss clinical medicine. I used to work in a hospital and I remember being on call, eating in the hospital cafeteria, walking the halls in the middle of the night, and seeing so many sick patients.

These days, many physicians work exclusively in the outpatient setting. They avoid the hospital and they probably also have a better work/life balance. Hospitals ought to be sterile environments, but we all know that they're contaminated with deadly strains of drug-resistant organisms.

  • I don't miss seeing all the pain, suffering, and death.
  • I don't miss performing invasive procedures on patients, even though they may have been necessary for diagnosis or treatment. 
  • I don't miss working all those long hours and late nights in the hospital.
  • I don't miss eating hospital cafeteria food.
  • I don't miss hearing "Code Blue." 
  • I don't miss the sadness associated with informing a family member about the death of a loved one.
  • I don't miss providing futile medical care. 
  • This list could go on and on.

There is one thing that I miss: the ability to treat and help a patient.

I now work at the population health level. I may not be making a difference on an individual patient, but I am making an impact at a broader level and I enjoy the ability to apply my scientific and medical knowledge in the workplace. If the clinical environment isn't the right place for you, there are many alternative careers you may want to pursue.

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