I was recently asked by Dr. Mark Cucuzzella to provide his medical students with some insight from my experience as a PT working with the elderly. The following is my response...
Dear Future Physicians:
I am writing you to offer some observations that I hope to be helpful for you in caring for people. I am a physical therapist (PT) who works with adults who are homebound. PT's help people be as mobile, functional, and independent as they can be. There are many factors that can limit patients' abilities, and it is our job (along with yours) to figure these out and provide ways to optimize their abilities and their participation in meaningful life activities.
This is not an easy task, especially from the medical standpoint. I have seen what your life is like second hand. My wife is an Emergency Medicine Physician. I have been alongside her at every step of her career. I recognize that being a physician is very challenging. People aren't getting any healthier, Dr. Google "knows" more than you do, and patient gratitude can seem like something of the distant past.
Yet, I want you to know that your work still matters. As a PT, I often interact with patients right after physician visits. This is a unique perspective as I get to see how interventions, bedside manner, and education impact patients. Now I've only been practicing since 2011, but I can confidently say that physicians still have a tremendous amount of influence in patients' lives.
Some people still trust doctors and do what they recommend!
I know it sounds crazy given your experiences in the hospital/clinic, but some, if not most, patients really do trust you! Nearly every day, I make recommendations to my patients, and by far the most common response is, "Well, my doctor said...". Physicians are able to influence patients exponentially more than most other healthcare providers. I know there are exceptions to this and differences among generations. Yet, I don't want you to lose sight of your power.
"With great power comes great responsibility."