The Crying Doctor

The Crying Doctor

At the end of my first year of medical school I spent a few days shadowing Dr. S in a small rural hospital. He was one of the younger doctors in the hospital, spending time in both a family medicine practice and in the emergency department. We had many similarities; both of us studied microbiology before entering medicine and recently started families. We bonded through these commonalities, leading to my being granted some independence in seeing patients and taking histories. Between patients he stood in the office, gently swaying back and forth, sharing with me his love of medicine.

During one short break, he proudly shared a few pictures of his infant daughter. He mentioned that he had recently dropped his workload from 115 hours a week to 65, with further reductions planned. I was surprised that he had such a workload until recently and proceeded to ask what had led to the change.

“A colleague of mine, also working over 100 hours a week, came into work crying one morning,” Dr. S stated. “When I asked him why he was crying, he said that that morning his 4 year old daughter had approached him and asked, ‘Daddy, where do you live?’” I could see that just telling the story caused him to well up. He blinked away a few tears. I gave an understanding nod. Nothing more was said on it, and we went on to see the next patient.

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Originally published in the UNM Medical MUSE Spring 2014 Edition. Available online PDF

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