Friends and colleagues, it’s good to be back home


I’m home, getting ready to go,

Running into the folks that I know

     I ran into a doc,

     No slave to the clock,

And I talked to a cellular pro.

I received warm greetings and hugs when I stopped into St. Luke’s doctors’ lounge today. 

If more of my colleagues heeded my warnings about cutting back schedules, working reasonable hours, and avoiding early burnout and death, we clearly wouldn’t have enough doctors.   One doc I spoke with has visions of doing locum tenens work, and I told him to call me for concrete advice when he decides to actually make the move.  I have a lot of things to say about how to tell a good recruiter from a bad recruiter.

A doctor who has avoided overwork and I talked about our professional enthusiasm.

Nobody I spoke with can sleep restfully when on call, but all downplayed the price we pay for vigilance. 

Many of the doctors expressed surprised when I talked about looking forward to doing inpatient work.  Some questioned my sanity. 

But one, whose wisdom I value, reminded me that some of our finest moments as physicians have been between midnight and six in the morning, helping families and individuals through difficult transitions.  Those times bring deep professional fulfillment and little reimbursement.  He understands my position.

Many docs remembered I’d been in Alaska.  I answered a lot of questions about Barrow, the North Slope, Inuit culture, and cold weather.

I didn’t get a chance to talk about my new insulated Carhartt Arctic Extreme bib overalls.

I signed medical records dating back to before my job transition.  I had conscientiously tried to clear out all my hospital medical records back in May, but apparently some fell through the cracks.  Or got pushed.

In the parking lot I talked with a colleague who knows me well.  I gushed about my experiences, and told about the recruiter from South Australia who offered a huge sum for 36 weeks work.  The idea of doing two weeks at a time appealed to me, I said, and paused.  She said, “But you’d miss your garden.  And your cherry trees.”

“Boy, do you know me,” I said.

In the afternoon Bethany and I went to a cellular phone business; we count the owners as friends.  We’ve gotten great service there over the years.  I’ve decided I need a smart phone.

I adopt new technology slowly, and I tend to use an instrument until it wears out or otherwise loses its usefulness.  Decades ago I bought the Franklin Pocket PDR and replaced the platform once.  When the manufacturer rendered that digital book obsolete, I bought a Palm and loaded Epocrates, an updatable drug database.  That Palm rode on my hip for seven years, functioning reliably till it expired forever, sending me to scramble for an updated Palm TX, which now resets every time I try to open my most-used application. A smart phone can consolidate two instruments into one.

We also changed our phone plan, signing up for more liberal texting rates, but I fear I’ll start getting tons of frivolous messages that will interfere with patient care.

In the grocery store we saw friends in the produce section and patients in dairy. 

It feels good to be back.  I’m treasuring the weeks I have before I set out again.

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