Letter to the Editor
I still blink back the tears after 20 years of emergency medicine. (“You're Too Nice to be an ER Doc,” EMN 2013;35:3; http://bit.ly/1hgpzFM.) It really is OK to let them see that you care and feel. You need to take a break when you can't feel anymore.
I did just that, and two years later I am back full-time in emergency medicine, a better person and a better doctor. I worked in a geriatric practice office, did inpatient hospice with great success, and was amazed when my patients would tell me that “no doctor has ever listened to me like you do. You really care.”
Establishing a rapport in two minutes or less is part of the art of medicine that we refine as ER docs. We don't have to be the uncaring, unfeeling cowboys of medicine that are very often depicted and that are almost expected by our patients and their families. We are there for them in ordinary as well as extraordinary times.
We have opportunities to educate and encourage. Compassion, empathy and introspection together with knowledge and technical skills, the ability to think on our feet, to juggle multiple tasks, and to lead our teams ... that's an ER physician. In practicing our art, we should embrace it all.
Mary Mazza, DO