The end of 2016 – and every year – brings out the numbers – 10 best events, top news stories, greatest moments in sports, etc. People have a natural need to quantify and rank things. It gives us a sense of control over our lives – very important in a year that so much seemed beyond our control. I am no different – living my life by the numbers. I track my activity and sleep with a Fitbit, my runs with Runkeeper, occasionally track my calorie intake with Lose It! I track the number of patients I see every day, the articles I post on TheDiagnosisMD, number of hits it gets. While the numbers are not the sum of all that is important in my life, it is an interesting lens with which to view it through!
- 11 posts – missed my goal of 2 per month
- Wrote 4/11 in January – meaning I went months without updating TheDiagnosisMD, other than via observations on Twitter and Facebook.
- 824 people visited this blog in 2016 – less than in 2015 – perhaps an indicator of the lack of consistency last year!
- In 2017, not only do I want to write more – I want to write consistently.
- Tracked 4,463,882 steps – over 700,000 more than 2015 – NYC is a walking town for sure!
- Ran 375 miles – 25 more than last year
- Average distance per run 5.4 miles
- Average pace of 8:56 per mile – 32 seconds per mile faster
- I sleep an average of 6.5 hours per night – 12 minutes more per night than 2015
- Not going to attempt to count hours!
- Became more involved in a leadership role in our practice and the Department of Medicine
- Was co-investigator on a grant submission (decision pending) to develop a clinical research project and education program
- Taught medical students and residents
- 2940 face to face visits with patients
This last number strikes me as incredible – not for its absolute value, but the opportunity it represents. 2940 chances to make a difference in someone’s life. 2940 shared moments of success, failure, hope and fear as people cross my path. My goal in 2017 is to make the most of these moments – for myself and my patients!
What are your goals for 2017?
The path to wellness begins with a proper diagnosis
As I have been re-aquainting myself with NYC and meeting new people, one of the questions that invariably comes up is “What kind of doctor are you?”. I answer, “An Internist”. Usually that is followed by a question of what is an Internist, or if I specialize in anything. After explaining what I do, I often get a response along the lines of – you are “just an internist”.
My very first blog post – Making a Diagnosis – Who Am I
described my journey in becoming an Internist. I put tremendous effort into developing my skills, my ability to communicate with people and gain their trust when they are at their most vulnerable. 20 years after graduating from medical school, I am still learning how to improve my skills, adapting to ever-changing environments in how medicine is practiced, and maintaining pride in a profession that has recently been quoted as having a 55% burnout rate. So minimizing my efforts with “just an internist” is akin to telling a woman she’s just a mom.
The American College of Physicians
put forth several efforts to explain Internal Medicine – both to its members and the public. I came across an article from 2013 by Dr. Yul
Ejnes about Internists being specialists in Internal Medicine – as opposed to cardiologists, gastroenterologists, and others who are sub specialists which explained this difference very well. After reading it, I reflected on things I had seen and done in the 3 months I have been back in NYC.
I find I serve a few different roles with patients. Some patients have chronic illnesses that are already diagnosed, and they are connected to subspecialists to treat that diagnosis. What they lack is someone to help them manage all their other health needs. For them, although not directing their condition, I am helping them manage side effects of treatment and be sure that any other symptoms are evaluated properly and attributed to their condition. Others come with a new problem and need a diagnosis. Both roles require my diagnostic training, but also empathy and most importantly, communication to determine the next steps for the person in front of me. This is what an Internist does – manage a person’s health while they deal with illness and diagnose new symptoms.
I am just an Internist – I’m the physician you see if you have a genetic blood disorder that has been under a specialists care since you were under a year old, or you have diarrhea for 6 months and need a parasite diagnosed or you have shortness of breath for a month and need heart surgery. Just an Internist – the doctor who listens, guides and educates. Just an Internist, a physician specializing in Medicine.