The Right Place

In the ER we see people on their worst days;
now-a-days, it’s their worst day amidst a pandemic.

I don’t see them as patients with problems–
they are people, and it’s important how I treat them.

But the more I see patients as people,
the tougher it can be to accept tough outcomes.

Even so, my priority is making sure I’m proud
of how I care for patients and their families.

It’s what makes the hard work so fulfilling;
It’s how I know I’m in exactly the right place.

Notes from the interview that inspired this poem:

This person was an emergency medicine physician in her first independent job since graduating from residency. “It’s been a challenging transition,” she said. She told me that she was adjusting to having fewer resources now that she was no longer at a large academic institution. She still felt good about her work, as challenging as it was. “In the ER we see raw humanism, and now it’s mixed in with the pandemic. But the most important thing is that I make sure I’m proud of how I treat people; that I can connect well with them.” she said. She wanted her poem to convey the contentment she felt about her work, and the high value she placed on seeing patients as people.

Interviewee: Anonymous, Physician
Listener Poet: Jenny Hegland

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