Why I Belong at Denver Health
October 22, 2018
“Thank you very much but I’m afraid I must decline your kind offer.”
A good long time ago I was frustrated. Frustrated about the myriad of social problems, the endless procession of patients suffering from the ravages of addiction. Imperfect solutions. I was, in retrospect, burned out. So I did what any normal professional would do. I went looking for a new job.
At the dealership the new models looked beautiful. Shiny with that new car smell. The jobs were easy. Patients had the best health insurance and vast social support. Anyone could buy a wheelchair or a walker if they needed one. No need to have a friend or family member scour the local thrift stores. At discharge, everyone had a place to go and a way to get there. At first it all looked so good. Easy money. No frustrations.
Through the interview process my unease grew. The jobs looked nice from the outside. The people I would be working with seemed nice. I recalled when I had left private practice to come back to Denver Health. I bumped into a friend from residency at Noodles and Company while picking up the weekly “mac ‘n cheese” for my younger daughter. She said she was working as a hospitalist at Denver Health and how was I doing?
“Bored and irritated,” I answered. I had been working in a private practice taking care of some very famous and fancy people around Denver. They liked to call me in the evening on weekends and ask for new prescriptions for medicines they knew by name. That kind of thing. She reminded me of 777 Bannock St. The need. The severity. The authenticity. The appreciation. I remembered it all. I also remembered the fear. When I was a resident, Denver Health was a battlefield where heroes died. A single medicine resident took every medicine admission for 24 hours. The number of patients we admitted and saw would cause the modern residency accreditation board to suffer mutual simultaneous heart attacks.
I came anyway. I came for the mission. I came for the need and the severity and the authenticity and the appreciation. And the patients. And a staff who shared the mission of caring for them.
While I continued my job search to leave Denver Health, I started enjoying my work more. I was listening to the stories my patients were telling me. Stories you just don’t hear anywhere else. I heard the stories and I knew how to help. I had been doing this for years. I was seeing the camaraderie in my colleagues – people who had come together to do this mission that many people would never consider. Or just weren’t cut out for. I started liking my job more. I started remembering why I love it. Then I started loving it again.
It wasn’t hard to turn down the jobs. They seemed boring and selfish. I didn’t belong there. I belong here. Doing this. With you.