The Patient is the Boss
Ms. Pamela Villas made a nice comment a couple posts back that set me to thinking about an encounter with one of my patients years ago.
One Monday we had a barn burner. By lunch I was worn out. Tired, hungry, borderline frazzled, I was trying to get to the finish line- lunch. My last patient was complicated. Hypertension, mild renal failure, diabetes; he had multiple problems. I did my best to tend to him, but my mind wandered.
After lunch, I felt better. I got out my office mandolin and strummed a few tunes. I caught up on my dictation. By 1:30 I was about set to regroup for the afternoon.
Paig beeped me. “Wasn’t Mr. Williams here this morning?”
“Yes ma’am. ”
“He’s on line one- says he forgot to ask you something.”
” This is Williams. I need to talk to you.”
“Yes sir, what’s up?
“When I was in there this morning, I felt like you were distracted. I know you have a lot coming at you, but when you’re in that room, I want your undivided attention. When we’re in there I’m your boss.”
I thought about that. Mr Williams was retired. He had been a mid level manager in industry, so he knew what it meant to be a boss, but he know all about having a boss too.
“How far do you live from the office?”
“Tell you what. I was tired. I should have paid more attention to you. Why don’t you come over right now and come back to my study? I’ll tend to whatever we didn’t get to.”
He seemed surprised. “Well O.K. Bibey. I’ll be right there. ”
We went over a few nuances about his blood pressure medication and decided to make a small change.
“Thanks, Doc. How much do I owe you?”
“Not a thing. The government won’t allow two visits in one day, man. I could get in trouble. The buck really stops with that crowd.”
“Ain’t it the truth? I dealt with all those bureaucrats for years.”
Ten years have gone by. Every time I see Mr. Williams I pull up a chair, sit down, and say, “O.K, boss. What can I do for you today?”
He always breaks into a broad grin. We get along famously. He, like Ms. Villars, understood a very important concept- the patient is the bottom line. And he was kind enough not to chew me out or correct me in front of everyone. As far as I know he never even mentioned it to the staff.
Mr. Williams is a very wise man. He has even taken a liking to bluegrass music. He’s just the kind of boss every employee hopes to draw.
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