As we reflect on 2019, we should be grateful for the people who support our work and appreciate how our relationships with patients, friends and family provide the foundation for a meaningful life. It is also important to remember the importance of integrity to do what is right, especially when it is not the easiest path to follow.
The holiday season is a good time for personal restoration. We often cannot control the difficult tasks we face, but we can control how we care for ourselves. The most effective way to not be part of the physician burnout epidemic is to establish personal methods to stay fit, eat right and get proper sleep – all with a dedicated effort to maintain key relationships in life. These gifts to yourself provide a positive and healthy spirit and the energy to fight future battles, especially as we continue to the transition to value-based health care.
We take pride in being a physician, realizing the incredible opportunity to positively affect lives. Without a better collective effort from physicians, however, less trustworthy people will make decisions that directly affect patient care. External forces, such as government regulation and insurance, fail to galvanize our efforts to capitalize on patient trust and physician expertise. When someone needs medical help on a plane, flight attendants do not ask for an insurance executive or a politician to provide aid. Yet, these professionals have a tremendous impact on orthopedic surgery. We also need physician leadership that is patient- and physician-centric, not centered on budgets and revenue.
As we end 2019 with reflection, personal restoration and gratitude for our blessings, let’s focus more toward making a difference and less on making a living. Hope is an incredibly powerful state of mind that can make the impossible seem possible. I hope that we, as physicians, can work together better in 2020 to represent our patients and ourselves.
The continued transition toward a value-based system will have many challenges, and it is better for us to have solutions than those who have never cared for patients. I hope surgeons in leadership positions can be true to their calling as physicians and maintain the level of trust the population respects and admires, and work toward trustworthy relationships with their peers. I hope leaders will find the strength to avoid moral injury and create better patient care, even if it does not follow a planned business model. Finally, I hope you will make time to be with and appreciate your loved ones this holiday season.
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Anthony A. Romeo, MD, is the Chief Medical Editor of Orthopedics Today. He can be reached at Orthopedics Today, 6900 Grove Road, Thorofare, NJ 08086; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclosure: Romeo reports he receives royalties, is on the speakers bureau, is a consultant and does contracted research for Arthrex; receives institutional grants from MLB; and receives institutional research support from Arthrex, Ossur, Smith & Nephew, ConMed Linvatec, Athletico and Wright Medical.