When I was 12, on our walk to synagogue one Shabbat, I remember when I spoke to my father about my aspirations to be a nutritionist instead of a doctor. I said I wanted to spend more time counseling patients (as well as focus on prevention, rather than treating disease). My father avidly understood.
Over the years, I had learned about the frustrations my dad had with the HMOs as a doctor in private practice. My dad told me that insurance companies had changed their reimbursement rates and were forcing clinicians to spend only 15 minutes per patient so they could see enough patients to keep their practice running.
For the last few years of his practice he hardly made enough money to do more than break even. It was a good thing he was planning to retire soon anyway. And it was an even better thing that he did so well in his ptivate practice for the 30 years prior.
My dad didn’t only give allergy shots to each of his patients. He gave them a listening ear. He discussed math problems with the middle schoolers and was attentive to his adult clients as they vented about life, work, marriage, or all three. Even if it was his last patient (and he scheduled them as late as 10 pm!), he would be there to listen to their trials and travails. Give them empathy. Be present with them. I always told people (more so after he passed) that he was part-therapist to many of his patients.
When I meet doctors in private practice likes this nowadays, I am so utterly grateful, since they are few and far between—and for good reason, they have to survive! It’s not a personal decision for them to cut someone short, it’s a matter of keeping their clinic going.
Recently I had a session with a client who mentioned she had reached out to ask follow up questions to her doctor and they didn’t call her back. I told her that I am happy to be an educational resource for her—after all, that is the name of the game here at diabetes education!
I told her my thoughts on the evolution of healthcare (“healthcare doesn’t care”), I even mentioned my father’s shining example, may his memory be for a blessing. I also told her how the term certified diabetes educator (CDE) was changed to certified diabetes care and education specialist (CDCES) and how now I have the word “care” in my professional title!
I was happy she found our session helpful and affirming.
And I’m starting to think this isn’t just a cool story anymore.
I’m starting to think that I was placed here, in this very era, to provide heart and soul to the healthcare industry.
And, in the memory of my beloved father, I’m going to work my ass off.
But it doesn’t feel like work.
I love connecting with people. I love educating and guiding them.
I’m grateful for my role.