Hitting a Nerve

It’s a gimmick


March 30 was National Doctor’s Day, which resulted in my getting all kinds of generic emails from pharmaceutical reps, market research places, insurance companies, and the two hospitals I’m on staff at.

They all had similar meaningless platitudes thanking me for what I do, reassuring me that I’m appreciated, that I make the world a better place, yadda yadda yadda. The hospital even said I could swing by the medical staff office and pick up an “appreciation bag,” which I’m told contained a T-shirt, bottle of hand sanitizer, and a few other trinkets.

Spare me.

I’m not looking for any of that. In fact, I really don’t care.

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

Dr. Allan M. Block

Wishing me a “Happy Doctors Day” after spending the other 364 days denying my claims, refusing to cover tests or medications for my patients who need them (I don’t order these things for the hell of it, you know), telling me that I’m bringing down your Press Ganey scores, complaining about the copay that I have no control over, yelling at my staff for doing their jobs ... is pretty damn hollow.

It’s kind of like Mother’s Day: If you’re a jackass to your mom most of the year, sending her flowers on a Sunday in May doesn’t make it all right.

People also seem to forget that, in a small practice, my awesome staff is an extension of myself. Mistreating them, then wishing me a “Happy Doctor’s Day,” is also worthless.

I still like what I do. All the hassles from insurance companies, various administrators, the occasional angry patient … after all these years, they put a dent in it, but I still have no regrets about the course I’ve chosen. They can’t take away the happiness I get from helping those who need me.

It’s a job I love that’s allowed me to support my family and work with two wonderful staff members I’d never have met otherwise. After 23 years the only gratitude that means anything to me is the occasional heartfelt “thank you” from a patient.

And that’s all I need.

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

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