An Open Letter To All Doctors

As most of you are aware, I am a doctor who has recently taken indefinite leave from the medical profession to pursue other passions. My passions include preventative health through nutrition and wholefood plant-based eating, amongst others. In leaving the profession I have come across a lot of people disgruntled with the medical world and their experience of its pharmacological ways.

“Whether the frustrated patient, or the well-hearted doctor. I am fiercely protective of both.”

I share a common passion with the disgruntled. A passion for preventing, and if possible treating disease with what we put into our mouths, thus sparing the need for drugs in the first place. However I differ with many in my affection and understanding of medical personnel. I understand both sides. Whether the frustrated patient, or the well-hearted doctor. I am fiercely protective of both. Having studied with and worked amongst doctors for the last decade of my life, I wonder if anyone who isn’t immersed in the medical profession really understands what they go through on a day to day basis. I think not. In fact I know you do not. So here is a heartfelt letter to my fellow comrades. Some of the smartest and kindest humans you could meet. This letter is for doctors and their families, but will be meaningful to all.

A Letter to Doctors Everywhere:

Dear Doctors,

On behalf of the public, I want to express the deepest thank you. For your persistence and drive to get into medical school, many of you completing an undergraduate degree prior to your medical degree just to be eligible to get in. Thank you for enduring the highly stressful 6 hour entrance exam and the hours upon hours that you spent studying for this. Some of you sat this multiple times, and applied year after year to various medical schools. Thank you for persisting until you got in. Thank you for your resilience, courage and dedication.

“Thank you for the endless hours that you crammed textbooks into your brain.”

Thank you for the years of study you spent in medical school. Thank you for the endless hours that you crammed textbooks into your brain. Other than that one annoying student with the photographic memory, I know it actually takes a ridiculous amount of red eyed nights and the lifestyle of a monk to get through. We thank you (and your families).

Thank you for every hour you spent practising on fake patients, dummies, and the hours on dead human cadavers memorising every muscle, nerve and blood vessel. Sure you forget it the minute the exam is over, but goodness for a while you are Einstein personified!

For learning, forgetting, then learning it all over again. Every single year. We thank you.

We thank you for every hour you spend as the annoying medical student. The often unwanted, unpaid student who follows the consultant around and jumps at his every command. Some of you were already distinguished professionals prior to becoming medical students, and yet you were humble and always willing to serve and learn. Thank you for suffering the “on the spot questions” thrown at you in front of patient’s and colleagues alike, designed to “further your knowledge”. Thank you for taking it in your stride when the theatre nurse yells at you for desterilising your sterile gloves. Thank you for pretending you were totally cool with being pooed or urinated on in your crisp professional clothes during your hundredth baby check of the day. In medical school, chances are, you only had one professional shirt. Thank the Lord for replacement scrubs and Napisan!

Thank you for surviving internship year, where overtime pay is an idealistic notion and 80 hour weeks are the norm. Thank you for running from place to place doing everything from getting the consultants coffee in the morning, to sprinting to the code blue to do CPR on someone for the first time. Thank you for putting on a brave face while you did procedures you had previously only watched on YouTube. It takes courage, doctors! Thank you for the endless discharge summaries that you do at the end of a long day. Thank you for doing the long stretch of 12 hour night shifts where even the hard, dirty hospital floor begins to look like a king sized bed clad in silken sheets.

Thank you residents and registrars for persevering to get into your chosen specialty. Thank you to those of you who took on research projects in the field of your choice, or the extra months, sometimes years you spent as a lower denominator doctor in your the specialty, just to “get your foot in the door.” Thank you for working long exhausting days and studying hours at night to get through your exams. Many of you had a spouse and children by this time and truly it is a feat of dedication and endurance. We thought medical school exams were hard! If only we knew. Oh and thank you for the thousands upon thousands of dollars you spent to sit them in the first place. Thank you to the fifty percent of you who failed them and picked yourself up to sit them again. Take note folks, a 50% pass rate for a bunch of doctors is not a reflection of the doctor’s intelligence, as much as a reflection of the exam itself. Sometimes the desire to laugh out loud at the pure absurdity of the questions needs to be quelled. Thank you all for getting through.

Thank you consultants for your constant dedication not only to those who are unwell, but to your entire team of registrar and residents. Thank you for your patience in teaching, your selfless sharing of your knowledge and your kindness to patients, junior doctors and nurses alike. Thank you for the hours of reading you do when you go home to continue to stay on top of the latest research, or to try and find answers to your patient’s disease. Thank you for pretending you were already up at 2am when your resident calls, and for leaping out of bed time and time again to respond to our crisis. Thank you on call doctors for appearing, bleary eyed, for 6am ward round anyway. Now we kind of understand why the tardy medical student is getting on your nerves. Thank you for forgiving him and letting him scrub in anyway.

Thank you in particular to the spouses and partners of doctors. You have laughed with us, cried with us, gone to many social gatherings and family events without us. You have cleaned, cooked and tried to understand our medical jargon and the stress we feel. You have suffered through our seemingly bipolar personalities at the peak of our stressful exams and after every nightshift. You have taken it on the shoulder when you regularly bear the brunt of the “worst shift in the world” and never complain when “I’ll be home by five” actually means 8pm and beyond. Thank you for concocting yet another excuse for why mummy or daddy missed dinner or bedtime, and always making your spouse seem like the hero to the children. You are equally heroic and we also thank you.

“Thank you for sacrificing time with your spouse and children so others can have more time with theirs.”

Thank you our beloved doctors, when day after day, you take lives into your hands, doing everything you can to make your patient’s well. Thank you for saving our lives, and the lives of our mums, dads, sisters, brothers and children. Thank you for facing incredible stress, trauma and pressure and yet turning up for work the next day anyway. Thank you for doing those mundane jobs with excellence. The thankless jobs are some of the most important ones. Thank you. Thank you for your dedication to a lifetime of study and research. Thank you for the tears you cry on the toilet and the sleepless nights you spend wondering if you gave the correct treatment, or kicking yourself for getting something wrong. Thank you for every act you do in secret which contributes hugely to your patient’s health and your teams well-being. Thank you for sacrificing time with your spouse and children so others can have more time with theirs. Thank you for every birthday you have missed and every family event you turned down so we can continue to have ours.

“Being a Doctor is a calling, not a profession.”

I’m the first to say it, our medical system is far from perfect. Our approach and treatment can always be improved. However to the people who dedicate their lives to it, we are grateful to you for everything you do. To every doctor, regardless of rank or specialty, thank you for, in many ways, forgoing your life so that others can have theirs. Being a doctor is a calling, not a profession. Being a doctor is a lifestyle, not a career. It’s a sacrifice.

On behalf of every man, woman and child you have treated, saved or attempted to save, we say with deep sincerity and absolute gratitude from deep, deep in our hearts, thank you.

Christine Greenwood
The Healthy Hiccup

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7 thoughts on “An Open Letter To All Doctors

  1. Kara says:

    Love this!!
    Thank you Christine for acknowledging the hard work, dedication and commitment that Doctors have x
    I am a nurse who has just stepped down from GP land r/t similar frustrations with the system, but the brave men and women in the medical field are so honourable!
    Love what you are doing and am so inspired by your creativity and competence in this new venture xx God bless you!

    1. Christine says:

      Thank you so much Kara
      I truly wish you all the best for your future ventures.

  2. Robyn says:

    Hi Christine. Well done for writing this tribute so eloquently. (Im a friend of your wonderful mother in law who put your blog up on fb). I am an oncology nurse who also has enormous respect for my medical collegues in this field…. especially the how they go out of their way to help their patients, make difficult decisions while being empathetic , and work ridiculous hours that nurses would never do !!! I too am a big believer in looking after ones health to delay the need for pharmaceutical intervention. …. but its nice to know they are around when needed 😊. Looking forward to checking out your recipes.

    1. Christine says:

      Hey Robyn! I love my mother in law! What a treat. 100% agreed… Thank you so much for your response and encouragement.

  3. Vivienne says:

    Christine you make me weep at your letter to doctors. So true, so heartfelt, so honoring to those who pursue the profession so fervently. As I have seen firsthand the commitment and passion you guys have out bush, I am proud to have worked alongside such caring, passionate people.
    And you, Queen of hearts Christine, will continue channeling your love for people so beautifully and freely in every direction you take 💜

    1. Christine says:

      Viv! Thanks so much Mamma…. Cannot wait to hold you soon!

  4. Davina says:

    Love it sis.

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