It is hard to fully describe the role of a physician. At its simplest, doctors are meant to provide medical care for people – of course with the caveats of do no harm, and beneficence, and autonomy, and etc etc that we talk about in medical ethics classes. But it in a more practical sense, it is harder for me to pin point exactly where a doctor’s job begins and ends. A person’s physical health is so closely tied to their emotional, mental, and social wellbeing that it seems almost counterproductive to treat one realm and not the others.
In the spirit of treating the patient as a whole, I’ve started to notice so many small things that my attending’s and residents do/coordinate that I never have before. I’ve seen them keep patients on the floor overnight if they have nowhere safe to go immediately after discharge. I’ve seen them call many different offices to line up the appropriate specialist follow-ups. I’ve seen them make sure the hospital floor is kept quiet so patients can get a good night’s rest. And on the larger scale, I’ve seen doctors advocating for patients and their needs to hospital administrations, corporations, and governments.
It is easy to put on blinders and believe that the role of a physician is simple and straight forward, but I’m starting to see that there is much more than I ever knew.