You may have already seen this, but I have a new writing gig on Psychology Today, and as my first post, I put up a piece that I've been noodling around for a while, about work-life balance during residency. If you haven't seen it yet, take a look.
It doesn't totally surprise me, though I guess I'd be lying if I didn't admit that it surprised me just a little, the reactions I got to the piece after I posted it. There are some measured responses, some balanced responses, but also some responses that make me realize: wow, some people really feel a lot of generalized antipathy towards doctors. And that makes me kind of sad, I guess. I don't deny that it's a privilege to go to medical school, or that it's a privilege to take care of patients, but I wish...I don't know what I wish. Maybe I just wish that criticisms lobbed towards doctors didn't automatically lead with the assumption that we are all terrible people with icy, cold hearts made of cash registers and human tears. Or that we all drive Lexuses.
(And, for the record, though I feel partially like I'm losing ground by even bringing this up--neither Joe or I drive a Lexus. I myself drive a Toyota Camary that we got from a used car dealer, whose cosmetic imperfections compel perfect strangers to stop me on the road in order to harangue me about body work.)
I put the piece up to talk about the fact that a profession born out of humanism sometimes fails to use humanistic principles in dealing with its own trainees--trainees who are largely idealistic and hardworking and wanting more than anything else to do good. And yet many of the comments I got sort of went in another direction, almost like an airing of grievances about the whole of medical profession itself. So. Three things.
One: I'm really glad I wrote the book I did. If for no other reason to humanize the practice of medicine to the outside, and to let people see what it's like, really like, to be a young medical trainee who, like all young medical trainees, got into this profession not for fame or fortune or the promise of a champagne fountain in their two-story foyer, but simply in the interest of trying to do her very best, for her patients and for her family. Many, many of the people who have read my book already are involved in medicine in some way, but now, more than ever, I'm determined to bring it more to a non-medical audience.
Two: I have no problem with getting comments opposite to my own viewpoint (so long as they are not gratuitously vitriolic), because that's the value of having a system which encourages open discussion. So I really hope that, for this piece and future pieces, that I get even more discussion, on all sides, and that the culture of those discussions is as well-conducted as the ones we've been able to have on this page. Do you have any thoughts about the piece? Why not weigh in?
Three: I'm delighted to have started writing online for Psychology Today, because I'm excited to bring the topics that I care about to a wider audience. The focus of my column on PT is the human side of the medical profession, and I can already see that we're going to have a lot to talk about. So what should I talk about next? I have some ideas, but you guys tell me: what do you want to read about?