Medicine has many rewards, some tangible and others not so much. Some people reap huge financial rewards, others personal ego boosting and prestige, some love putting things back together nicely and still others find rewards in smiles and thank you’s. I’m, I like to think, more towards the latter pair…don’t get me wrong, I do make a decent living, but I’ve long since stopped worrying about gongs (medals to non-military folks) and badges and such to say I did something that someone thought was extraordinarily special to make a difference in someone’s life.
Two things happened this week, well actually a number of things happened, but two in particular stand out in my mind that gave me a happy pause in my day. The first tale is one of a young patient that came in with the beginnings of a nasty infection. This would involve treatment by IV for a few days…something many folks, forget young kids, aren’t especially happy about. Well, myself and my team mates got a little plan together and made sure any needles were as painless as possible, a couple popsicles were had and all walked away reasonably happy. The next day, this youngster came back for reassessment; when I went to see them, I found a smiley kid (always a good thing in my books) and a personally drawn picture of me and them with “Thank you for helping me” on it. I rarely get things like that, much less from kids. The rest of the team also got one each. I have it proudly hanging on our bulletin board in the ER. Things like that make you feel like it was worth going to work that week, even if it wasn’t always a good day out.
A second thing came up that was a bit of a left over from last year. While at one of my other jobs, a person who I’d treated for a severe allergic reaction the summer previous let me know that they were still grateful and that I’d been nominated for a commendation of sorts. They were somewhat upset though, that this had been stopped due the fact I was “only doing [my] job”…which I was. While I appreciated the gesture, I did reply that (a) thank you was just fine for me and (b) I certainly didn’t do anything I’d actually consider extraordinary enough to warrant something like that. While I actually realize that there are other things at play there I’m not going to get into at this time, it’s not what I’m about – thank you is more than enough, and sometimes more than you get from some folks.
Making folks better, or at least feel better, is one of the great things about this job. It’s a privilege to be able to do that, one I find some folks waste on the other trappings that can come with a career in medicine. Try not to be one of those, as money comes and goes, so does prestige…but those little gestures of thanks will stick with you forever. If you’re more worried about the other stuff, you might find yourself devoid of thanks.