Being a star isn't needed to help patients

December 25, 2013

Doctors don't have to be the only provider of care to patients in order to feel professional satisfaction, a reader writes.

I started as a family physician in 1985. By today’s standards, I guess it was the wild west.  I admitted to the intensive care unit, did obstetrics, sigmoidoscopies, and colposcopies, and served on more committees and boards than one can imagine.

I never really thought about being a star.  I always saw myself as being the hands of a much greater force that had nurtured and trained me for the moment I was to make others feel important, healthy and cared for.

 As Richard Waltman, MD  so well described my current role, I am a “provider.” (“Physicians are no longer the stars of healthcare,” November 10, 2013.)

We have a lot of good evidence now that we can make a difference in the lives of our patients by providing broad and deep coordinated care with a doctor at the helm but not necessarily the star or the holder of all knowledge. I have accepted my inability to provide the care a team can provide and I have seen the results that are also shown in evidence-based approaches.

As a young doctor I admitted many, many patients with diabetic amputations, strokes, and more. In my 30-year career, I have seen a remarkable decrease in these ailments.

I have finally come to center, knowing that as a provider with a medical degree, I am making a difference. And guess what? I still get a good seat in a restaurant and some other expressions of respect for being the doctor in a small town.

Yes, being the star was fun, but keeping patients alive longer and happier is more fun.
 

John Giannone, MD

Deposit, New York