Hitting a Nerve

Learning to live with a slow week at the office


It was a slow week at my office. For whatever reason, almost no one called for an appointment. Roughly 80% of my office slots were empty.

As a result, I began to worry.

You’d think that after 20 years in practice I wouldn’t, but I still do. I wonder if someone has actually read my Yelp reviews (most of which aren’t particularly good), or that I’ve done something to upset my referral base, or that some scandal about me broke in the local news that I’m entirely unaware of.

empty waiting room rdegrie/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Of course, the reality is that business comes and goes in waves. It was also the week after local schools closed for summer, and people were fleeing for summer vacation. In Phoenix, the older population leaves town as it heats up, and our winter visitors from elsewhere went home last month. And, like any business, things go in cycles that often don’t have a rational explanation.

Dr. Allan M. Block, a neurologist is Scottsdale, Ariz.

Dr. Allan M. Block

I reassure myself that plenty of weeks are crazy. Patients crammed into every nook and cranny of the schedule, more people needing to be worked in, a huge pile of test results to be reviewed and make decisions on, and a lot of phone calls to be returned.

Then I’ll wish for a quieter week. I’ve given up on finding a happy medium – it doesn’t seem to happen.

So I try to live with the quiet. Close up and go home a little early if there’s no one to see. Catch up on my sleep and reading. Do some online surveys for extra dollars. Throw away expired stuff in my drug sample cabinet.

Medicine is, in general, a pretty hectic job. I need to learn to accept the quiet times as a gift and enjoy them, because the crazy days always return.

Dr. Block has a solo neurology practice in Scottsdale, Ariz.

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