TALES of DOCTORING
A Play in Three Parts
Health Care in the Industrialized World
Before December 2019
[Societal Demands are in place on stage]
[Enter Doctors - standing tall and strong under the expectation to serve as community pillar of health and disease eradication]
Keep pace with ever-changing information, endure dozens of hours for a single shift, balance personal and professional responsibility, train your successors and innovate new methods and means of eradicating disease.
Yes, we will do hard things.
Carry the weight of morbidity and mortality with and for patients, hold volumes thick with knowledge and lug packs overflowing with experience everywhere you go.
Yes, we will shoulder heavy burden.
Always find your way back to the health no matter how confusing the path or level of disease.
Yes, we will navigate complicated systems and situations.
Understand and adjust to ever changing rules and regulations that will seek to prioritize efficiency and profit margins over the health of patients and yourselves, hold firm to your oath to protect and serve patients.
Yes, we will adapt.
Learn harmonies and new instruments to make even the most challenging melody more beautiful; play back-up, or in the pit, for insurance companies and administrators.
Yes, we will cope with discord and contribute to balance.
[Doctors exit stage left, setting forth to uphold all outlined measures.
Societal Demands remain on stage in deliberation as the curtain closes]
Health Care in the Industrialized World
Post-advent of COVID-19
[Societal Demands are again on stage, increased in number – demonstrating hostility and distrust, fueled by panic and fear]
[Enter Doctors – pace slowed, faces lined with stress and evidence of poorly fitting masks, coughing and visibly fatigued, yet demonstrating posture resolute]
You must do harder things.
Information will change hourly. We will work longer shifts or close our practices entirely, enduring greater risk to ourselves and many will face furlough. We will leave our family for weeks on end, perhaps forever, to serve on the frontlines against an adversary we have never before faced. We will move to virtual methods for patient care and the training of our successors. While all of this is happening, we will generate additional energy to advocate and innovate for supplies and strategies that our systems have failed to acquire in adequate volume or timely manner.
You must shoulder even heavier burden.
Rates of morbidity and mortality will rise faster and extend farther than previously seen. We will carry our books and packs and now swim them through a river of doubt, misinformation and criticism from leaders. We will hold our breath longer and kick harder to stay afloat. We will tow the lifeboat with patients across without life preserver for ourselves. If we submerge, there will be no rescue dive. One of our colleagues will simply step in and take up the task.
You must navigate ever more complicated systems and situations.
The path will be obscured by disease and death, of patients, and eventually our colleagues, at rapidly increasing rates. The destination of health will be ever more difficult to find. We will press on, trekking farther and faster. We trust our inner compass will guide us back. We will lead the way through appropriate social distancing and education of our patients and communities, even through mounting criticism. We will walk carefully along the precipice of our routine clinical responsibilities and solving this acute and aggressive new disease.
You must continue to adapt.
As rules and regulations grow more obscure, it is a greater challenge to uphold the best for patients and ourselves. Recommendations ignored, personal testimonies belittled, personal sacrifices diminished while outcome expectations maintained, we will continue to adapt by the minute and do what is needed to protect and serve patients against all odds.
You must continue to cope with discord.
The dissonance has grown ever more unstable, notes written without reason and out of balance with the whole. We play on through the harsh tension of grief, pain and conflict, actively seeking the ease and peace of resolution.
[Doctors exit stage right, fewer in number, some being carried, arms linked in solidarity. Societal Demands remain, arguing amongst themselves about the truth in the words of these physicians as the curtain closes]
All the world's a stage, And all the doctors merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one doctor in her time plays many parts
Adapted from As You Like It, William Shakespeare
Doctors Day of National Physicians Week 2020
takes place in a setting we have never before encountered
and physicians are expected to uphold their role as if nothing has changed.
We ask not for a standing ovation or flowers thrown onto the stage.
Instead, give us the best costumers that we may be adorned in the protective equipment necessary to allow us to perform safely and comfortably the role for which we are trained and ready.
Provide for us a playwright with ego temperate enough to cut and rewrite the script, knowing the ending might not be happy but it should be rooted in the core tenets of our oath.
Bring us a director insightful and creative, willing to make tough decisions and develop a cast and crew based purely on best alignment of skill and experience.
Create a score filled with soaring melodies and instrumentation that is harmonious, conducted artfully through dissonance, landing softly in resolution.
Fill the house with an audience receptive, honoring our frontline experience and heeding advice shared through beautiful prose grounded in data, filtered through experience and delivered from the heart with an authentic voice.
May we be well enough to step onto the stage for Act III,
playing all the parts that are asked of us.
May we find Societal Demands softened by
broadened awareness of our struggles and sacrifice.
May the tone shift in favor of health, including that of those who are protecting, preserving and promoting it with their lives.
May there be an encore from which we can exit with a satisfied exhaustion of
work done well – honored, appreciated and ready for another season.