I sometimes wonder if Hippocrates knew that he was making it difficult for physicians to engage in self-care and self-preservation. The pious approach that he prescribed was systematically reinforced throughout my training which also contained very little teaching on how to make a living practicing medicine.
My experiences as a family physician over the last 36 years have shown me how difficult it is for the practice of medicine (the profession) and the medical practice (the business) to coexist. I come to work excited to practice medicine – but by patient 20, I have lost most of my enthusiasm. The demands of medical practice require that I don’t stop until patient 40 is seen. I have difficulty attaching compensation value to my services, yet I request others to value my services. Over time, our patients and society have forgotten that we are only human.
The physician paradox is this: to give ourselves the opportunity to be selfless, we first need to learn how to be selfish. We need to stand up and speak out about the value of family physicians.
I think of BC Family Doctors as the “Family Physician’s Advocate.” This organization is accountable to us alone. During my watch, we will dedicate ourselves to unapologetically advocating on your behalf, together with other physician advocates like Doctors of BC and the BC College of Family Physicians. We will use every means available to ensure that your voice is heard, and your needs are considered.
We must unite our voices to ensure that there is a future for family medicine in BC. Family Medicine clinics are critical healthcare infrastructure and the cornerstone of the healthcare system. We need increased supports to address the rising costs of doing business. We don’t expect fire fighters to pay for the fire halls with the money they make from fighting fires. Why then do we expect family physicians to pay for clinics?
We can no longer subordinate our wants and needs as Hippocrates called us to do. We cannot continue with the current state.
Despite my frustrations, disappointments, and anger with the healthcare system I remain hopeful. I ask you to take this first step with me – unite your voices and remain hopeful that better days are yet to come.