Every now and then I am reminded what is great about being a doctor. I came across a posting on the Internet entitled: This letter from my late mother’s doctor has changed my life. It’s short and sweet and reminds me how big an impact one person can have on another.
The redacted version is included here, and a copy of the letter is included at the end of this post. It says a lot in a few words:
- Dear Mr. (blacked out),
I am the Emergency Medicine physician who treated your wife Mrs. (blacked out) last Sunday in the Emergency Department at the New York Presbyterian Hospital. I learned only yesterday about her passing away and wanted to write to you to express my sadness. In my twenty years as a doctor in the Emergency Room, I have never written to a patient or a family member, as our encounters are typically hurried and do not always allow for more personal interaction. However, in your case, I felt a special connection to your wife (blacked out), who was so engaging and cheerful in spite of her illness and trouble breathing. I was also touched by the fact that you seemed to be a very loving couple. You were highly supportive of her, asking the right questions with calm, care and concern. From my experience as a physician, I find that the love and support of a spouse or a family member is the most soothing gift, bringing peace and serenity to those critically ill.
I am sorry for your loss and I hope you can find comfort in the memory of your wife’s great spirit and of your loving bond. My heartfelt condolences go out to you and your family.
(blacked out), MD
These short paragraphs say it all. Taking care of patients, even in the waining hours of health and life, is a great responsibility and privilege. To be a doctor, is a choice I made early in life that I have never regretted. I can hear the cynics out there saying, “You’re a Plastic Surgeon, not a real doctor.” Heck, I’ve heard some of my colleges make the same comment, but that’s not how I feel about it. I do specialize in Cosmetic Plastic Surgery, but “Do no harm” means knowing a lot more than how to do liposuction. I do also practice Reconstructive Plastic Surgery, and I don’t always get to give good news.
My thanks goes out to the gentleman who publicly shared this handwritten note from his mother’s ER doctor, as well as the doctor for so simply and legibly, expressing the impact that patients can have on their doctors, even if it’s just one visit. Last, but not least, thank you to my pateints for your trust and kindness.
Here is a copy of the original letter: