Doctors' Writing Contest 2011 New Doctor Award: A bittersweet taste of perspective

February 25, 2011

Like in the movie "Ratatouille," the author finds herself desiring some well-seasoned perspective.

In the movie "Ratatouille," cynical food critic Anton Ego challenges the whiskered chef to whip him up some perspective.

"That's it. I'd like some fresh, clear, well-seasoned perspective," he says. "Can you suggest a good wine to go with that?"

Even before getting out of bed, I was grumbling at the day ahead, which held charting that I hadn't finished from the day before; at my husband, who had this incredible ability to sleep through our baby's wailing; and at my son, who apparently didn't read the textbook on soothing himself back to sleep. What I didn't expect that morning was that I would get a taste of some much-needed perspective.

PRACTICE BRINGS CHANCE TO SEE LIFE'S UPS AND DOWNS

Perspective is elusive in the practice of medicine. On one hand, the opportunity to see into the lives of so many people, witnessing their hurts and fears, provides a broad perspective on life. From a person's triumphant joys to his or her most menial struggles, there is no generic story.

On the other hand, lives are messy. Emotions are inconvenient. With perspective comes the discomfort and danger of vulnerability, so it often is easier to back away and let it be a pretty concept on the shelf to admire and applaud. And besides, that pesky thing called productivity prefers a nice tidy SOAP note, a quick scribble of a signature, and a terse pat on the back.