Some days as a physician are hard- busy, mired in paperwork, behind schedule. Then, there are moments that give you a jolt and make you remember why you are there. This was one.
She had brought her daughter in to see various health care providers over the last couple of months for the same problem. Her daughter was tired. Something just didn’t seem right. She hadn’t been wanting to eat much. She had stopped napping long ago and now was asking to nap instead of going to the park. She complained of tummy pain.
The doctors who saw her daughter had provided good care. She had normal x-rays and routine labs. But, something wasn’t right.
Here’s the thing. I knew this kid. I’d known her since she was a baby. She wasn’t herself. I couldn’t let it go. I didn’t know exactly what was wrong, but I knew something was.
We figured it out. It was fixable. The child had surgery. Four weeks later she came bounding in to my office with a big smile on her face.
Thank you for listening, her mom said.
This is what we forget. Being a good doctor is not just always about being the smartest or the fastest, although these things do help.
Being a good doctor is also about having a good ear and paying attention. It is forming relationships over time. In pediatrics, it is learning (hopefully early on), that parents know their kids better than you do.
It is the shared joy of seeing a child get better.
Because you listened.