I visited Washington DC for the first time last week and it truly is an inspiring place. The congressional PR video I saw during the Capitol tour almost made me believe that dialog and debate still works in our nation’s politics!
National Public Radio commentator Cokie Roberts once wrote about growing up as a congressman’s child in the 1950’s. Senators and Representatives from both parties would attend each other’s BBQs and their wives would work on PTAs together. On the floor, they could play rough with each other, but off the field they were still on the same team. Many of them were WWII vets and knew that the real enemy “was a dictator across the ocean, not a guy across the aisle.”
Now our politics – and by way of comparison - our medical practices have become inextricably siloed and in this atmosphere, many doctors feel intensely lonely. Whether it is the radiology docs sitting in rooms staring at screens or the family practitioner whose stack of charts has been replaced by a suffocating in-box, there seems to be little time left to build professional friendships. Ultimately, this separation between individuals contributes to a larger division between departments, practices, and employers that can quickly become turf wars or lawsuits.
ACMS hosts events where physicians can get to know each other better and stand united in their profession. Learning the perspectives of other doctors and the story of the people behind those positions helps us have an integrated view of our medical community and the challenges we all face.
Relationships demand inefficiency. It is the causal, non-business conversations and hanging out time that provide a solid bedrock for getting through the grind with each other. With this in mind, I encourage you to make the time you need to connect with a colleague.
P.S. Mayo Clinic recently reported their findings of the importance of physicians eating meals together. In a nine-month study physicians were paid for an hour of free time or “meal time with a colleague.” Those who ate with peer every two weeks reduced their burnout levels and increased satisfaction in their work vs. those who just went home an hour early or used it to catch up on administrative tasks.