Finding Self-Worth: How One Physician Navigates Through A Broken Healthcare System

Over the next weeks, Jean Robey, MD will be exploring the complexities of finding self-worth as a physician working within our broken healthcare system in a series of four essays. 

Read Essay Two | Read Essay Three

Every physician has been asked dozens of times: why did you become a doctor? I fought to become a doctor because it was the profession that took my best attributes and made it useful and valuable to society. Like all physicians I seek to validate those terms often.  

As the profession looks to adapt to demands and preserve the needed elements, physicians ask themselves if they remain interested or feel valuable in their role as a physician. Many say yes. Many have days they say no. Many are losing sight why they still have value. 

Part of saying yes is feeling self worth in the profession we have. Part of feeling self worth is having pride in what we contribute. Pride in our professional identity helps to create joy. 

There are many things physicians can pride themselves on. I submit three attributes that are not spoken of as vocally as they should be. In our humility we have encourage a devaluation of our roles and thus a poor voice to exert effect on medicine to preserve our identity and roles. 

1) We have the experience of time. We will in our professional lifetime see many similar human situations. We will also see rare things and unusual things. All such experiences help to attest probability and possibility. From that we comfort patients, giving insight and hope. Nothing can replace a physician's years of experience.  

2) Physicians are human. They are vulnerable and show empathy. Empathy allows for a connection to defeat isolation. We can bridge the unknown by our own personal humility. We believe we can afford to help and in that realization we try to help. 

3) Physicians have been selected in part for self sacrifice. We choose to sacrifice what we can for a greater goal and need. We do it willingly and dutifully.  We humbly remind society that we do sacrifice often. 

Experience, human vulnerability, and self sacrifice are things we contribute to society in our identity as a physician. There are many other attributes but these represent pillars to why physicians uniquely serve an irreplaceable leadership role. I hope they stand to create a step to stand on and an armor to fend off the growing air of doubt within physicians themselves and within society. 

Jean Robey, MD is a practicing Nephrologist in Arizona. She is a mother, wife, writer, and poet. She writes to pay homage to her beloved patients and to share the experiences of her profession with all.

Visit Jean's blog, Ethos of Medicine.

 Aptly named, Enclothed Cognition is the official Medelita blog for medical professionals interested in topics relevant to a discerning and inquisitive audience. Medelita was founded by a licensed clinician who felt strongly about the connection between focus, poise and appearance.

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