Doctors’ Day: Honoring a Privileged and Enduring Profession

Doctors’ Day: Honoring a Privileged and Enduring Profession

Once again, it is National Doctors’ Day. Maybe you hear about it on the radio on your drive to work; maybe your hospital set up a table and is giving out flowers or coffee and donuts; maybe your staff was tuned in to the event and thanked you for what you do. But for most physicians, it’s just another day in early spring. I have written a bit about how odd the day felt to me during my 30 years of community practice: My work as a doctor was focused on my patients, that day and every other day, so it was hard to see how and why there was anything “special” about a designated day.

Now that I no longer practice, I am much more aware of just what it is that practicing physicians offer their patients, and how profoundly meaningful our interactions with patients really are. These everyday human interactions are powerful and real, and something that often gets lost in the day-to-day grind of practice and the unending inbox of the EHR.

So I offer a gift of appreciation to my colleagues on Doctors’ Day: the full text of Dr. Francis Peabody’s famous 1927 JAMA essay on “The Care of the Patient.” It is often quoted, but rarely read in full. It is well worth a few minutes of your time today.

One taste to get you engaged: “Medicine is not a trade to be learned but a profession to be entered.”  Those of us who have been privileged to enter it and be of service to our patients can take pride in the continuity we have with giants such as F. W. Peabody. But what he did—and what all of us do—is truly enduring.

Happy Doctors’ Day!

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