Memo from the Editor: Finding the rhythm

April 9, 2001

MGM's first Editor's Memo

 

Memo From The Editor

Finding the rhythm

By Marianne Dekker Mattera

After nearly 18 years, I find myself starting a new job. I'd forgotten just how difficult it is when you don't know where things are, who does what, or what all the pieces of paper mean. But most difficult of all, I think, is not knowing the rhythm of the job—when things move, how they happen.

I'm luckier than most people starting out fresh. I'm returning to a publication on which I worked for 11 years, and some of the systems and procedures are still intact. I'm even fortunate enough to be working with some of the people I worked with then. One of them is my immediate predecessor in this position, Jeff Forster. He was my manager when I left Medical Economics, and I'm fortunate that the changes that brought me back mean I'll be reporting to him again. This time, though, he's a vice president, and no one could deserve the title more.

But no matter how much is familiar, I still find myself very much at sea, and more than a bit humbled, knowing that I must depend on others on staff to tell me what I have to do and when. As I wrestle with those feelings of insecurity, I try to put myself in the place of a young internist I've come to know. He's just become board-certified and is leaving a group in the metropolitan New York area to open a solo rural practice upstate.

The group he was in was far too productivity-oriented to allow him to spend the quality time he wanted with his patients. But even though he's now affiliated with a hospital that's helping him with many of the details of setting up his new practice, he's given up a lot of the security and systems that come with group medicine. His challenges will have far more consequence than mine, but we're both finding our way in a new work environment with a new rhythm.

Although most of you haven't faced those fresh-in-practice challenges in a while, all of you have had to cope with the changes in practice rhythm brought about in recent years by the demands of managed care and the opportunities of the electronic age. And if you think you've had trouble finding the rhythm of today's health care scene, think how your patients feel. Not only do they enter a world that's foreign to them—the health care system—they do so at a time when they're most vulnerable.

No matter how much you hear about "the new patient" who's "taking control" of his health care, every patient who walks in your door wants a compassionate, grounded physician to guide him through the system and see him safely out the other side. Your success in that role doesn't depend solely on your clinical competence, either. The trust your patients have in you is so fragile, it can be shaken by something as small as an abrupt comment from your receptionist or inattentive care delivered by an overworked hospital staff nurse. I know, I've been there.

So I want you to know that although I expect to move into the rhythm of my new job relatively quickly, I also expect to be constantly monitoring the rhythm of the ever-changing health care scene. My search will be guided by your needs and those of your patients. Those are the touchstones that have guided the editors of Medical Economics throughout its 77-plus years: We serve as champions for doctors, bringing you sound information that will make your business life easier so you can dedicate more of your attention to your patients. And we do that informed by our own experiences as patients—an insight I feel is invaluable to our readers.

In the long run, I'm convinced that that triangle—editor, doctor, patient—will produce a fascinating rhythm, indeed.

 

Marianne Mattera. Memo from the Editor: Finding the rhythm. Medical Economics 2001;7:7.