This year, as we approach Thanksgiving, I find I’m most thankful for my children, grandson Xander, family and friends. Had it been 15 years ago, I would have said my mother’s physician, Dr. John McGuckin.
You see, Dr. McGuckin cared for my mother throughout her battle with cancer. He provided compassionate, quality care to my mother through her last days and steadfast support to my family and me throughout her illness. He made a very difficult situation better for my mother and all of us who loved her.
In the same way my family was touched by Dr. McGuckin, I suspect most of us know a physician who has profoundly and positively impacted our lives. To each and every one of them, I say thank you.
Your service, compassion, years of knowledge and late night and weekend work are more deeply appreciated than a simple thank you can convey. You see us at our worst, when we are sick, injured, frightened and stressed about a loved one. In those moments, your expertise, confidence and calm give us strength and hope.
I am confident thank yous are appreciated, but at the same time, it’s also important that I acknowledge it’s become increasingly difficult to be a satisfied physician.
Impactful Physician – Patient Relationships Harder to Attain
Our survey discovered alarming numbers of practicing physicians find little satisfaction in the practice of medicine. For most physicians, the ability to create meaningful relationships with their patients - like the one Dr. McGuckin had with my mother - and truly impact health outcomes is why they entered the practice of medicine in the first place; it’s also critical to experiencing joy in their work.
Yet 84 percent of physicians believe quality patient time may be a thing of the past, and the overwhelming majority feel impactful patient relationships are highly difficult to attain:
- 88 percent said spending time developing an authentic engagement with each patient is increasingly harder to realize.
- 81percent said focusing fully on patient needs, treatments, and methods is increasingly harder to actualize.
- 79 percent said it’s become harder to develop intimate professional relationships with patients in their care.
Joy of Medicine
I am gratified that in the time since our survey showed the Physician Misery Index is a 3.7 out of 5 and the Geneia Joy of Medicine Challenge ended, many others have added their voice to the acute need to reverse widespread physician dissatisfaction. As but two of many examples, the American Medical Association and leaders like Dr. Christine Sinsky have championed the issue, worked to identify root causes, and introduced physician practice transformation tools like StepsForward. Similarly, Jay Bhatt, DO, chief medical officer of the American Hospital Association, has eloquently discussed how working on quality improvement and patient safety can help restore the Joy of Medicine.
That said, we can and must do more. Ultimately, I believe all of us who work in the healthcare industry must acknowledge the issue of physician dissatisfaction and the implications for doctors and their patients, and work to reverse it.
For me – and I hope you too – this important work begins with thanking Dr. McGuckin and all physicians who have cared for the people I love.