It is 8 am and my day is about to start. I’m well rested, I went for a run this morning and I just leisurely finished my cup of coffee. Life is good or it should be…
No matter how great of a morning I’m having, I still don’t want to start my day of patients. There’s nothing out of the ordinary on the schedule, no double bookings, no shortened appointments. But, while I’m well rested, I just don’t feel like I have the emotional energy.
I don’t feel like making small talk today. I’m not in the mood to listen to patient reports.
But, I go grab my 8 am from the waiting room and before she is even out of her chair she is telling me how much worse she is. This is a HUGE pet peeve of mine. I don’t want to talk about symptoms until we are back at a table. Yet, she spends every single one of the 200 steps toward the treatment area telling me how bad she hurts. I clench my jaw and listen. It is not that I don’t believe her or that I don’t feel bad. It is that I do feel bad and the more she complains, the worse I feel. I listen to her as I also daydream about having a job where I sit alone at a desk and don’t interact with anyone.
I don’t know if you can relate to this feeling, but if you can then I know you understand what I mean when I say that I love my patients, but I don’t always like patient care.
I’ve hesitated writing about this for years now. I’m afraid of what co-workers will think, what my students will think, and most of all what the patients whom I LOVE will think.
Here’s the thing. I care deeply about all of the patients I see. I want them to get better, I want them to become the best version of themselves, and I want to see them get to do what they love to do.
Things remind me of my patients when I’m not at work. I’ll pass a lake and think of my patient that loves swans. I’ll check the score of the Patriots game because my patient is a fan. I’ll research pathologies and current best evidence, but I’ll also research Fortnite because it’s the only way to connect with a shy thirteen year old.
I spend an incredible amount of time thinking, planning, and caring about each individual I see. And while I love getting to make a difference and while I love developing these relationships, there are times I want to get out or at least decrease my time in patient care.
It’s a confusing feeling. One minute I want to do a victory lap because I had an awesome session where my patient beat his best broad jump by another 3 inches and the next I feel like hiding in the bathroom.
How can I love working with patients, but at the same time want to escape it?
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it, but it wasn’t until COVID happened that I realized what’s going on.
I don’t dislike patient care, but I don’t have the capacity to do it full-time. In order to spend the amount of time and energy I want to give each patient, I can’t do it 40 hours per week. I was on a 20 hour/ week schedule when COVID first started and my patient care was thriving.
Twenty hours went to patient care and I spent the additional 20 hours working on the other things I want to do. Speaking and presentation opportunities, The Rebellion, and some other odd jobs filled half of my time and I loved it. And I started to love patient care again.
I was alert. I had so much to give. And most of all, I didn’t feel exhausted at the end of the day.
Because I had more energy to give, I could be more engaged. I was more empathetic and I started looking forward to patient care again. Patient care wasn’t the problem and I’m not even sure that the amount was the problem. But getting to work on other meaningful things and supplement my income in other ways revitalized me.
If you feel like I do, it may be time to start thinking about what else you can do besides patient care. I’m not saying leave it completely, but you may be surprised how much more you enjoy it when you have other things to work on as well.
Maybe you want to teach, instruct continuing education, start an online business, coach performance or consult for nutrition. Or maybe you don’t know yet, but something has to give. Check out our new Discover. Create. Launch Course because you don’t have to treat from 9-5 if you don’t want to.