Our PA we are hiring was getting some work on her home a few days ago and in making small-talk with one of the workers she mentioned that she was working at our practice. When said who it was, the worker's eyes teared up and he said, "Dr. Rob saved my life last November. I am sending all of my family to him." I will never get used to hearing that kind of thing. Sometimes it is not really true - I just help them out medically, but in this case it was actually the case. I picked up a subtle sign for angina in someone with no risk factors and a negative stress test. I was a bit pleased that I had uncovered his "widowmaker" lesion. I understand he would be grateful and think I am a good doctor.
But this kind of thing makes me uncomfortable, and I am not really sure why. It is hard to know how to react. In one sense, I was just doing the job he was paying me to do. My doing it well did result in a life-changing benefit for him, but isn't that kind of thing expected of me? Should a fireman be proud for putting out fires? Should a mechanic be pleased she can fix cars? I really was just doing my job.
Most people don't have jobs that can have such huge consequences of doing good or harm. My mechanic may be as sharp as I am, but she does not get the pats on the back that I get. My nurses may work hard, but I get a lot of the credit. In a certain way, I am simply in a position to make a difference, and that does not bestow me with added nobility. This always tempers my pride.
The other thing that tempers my pride is the fact that I don't know what is coming into the office the next day. Just because I picked this up does not mean that I will not miss something easy in the days coming up. Pride should never lead to overconfidence.
So I let myself take some pleasure in hearing this kind of thing, but I don't let it last very long. I try to keep my satisfaction a private thing. It certainly gives a lot of motivation to work hard in my job and goes a long way to recharge batteries depleted by Medicare, insurance company idiocy, drug reps, and whiney demanding patients. I have to drink in the good words sometimes, but the pleasure I can get from this is fleeting, and I must focus on the patient in the next exam room.
They are counting on me doing as good of a job on them.