The Good Old Days: They Weren’t Always So Good…
Occasionally, I hear providers harken back to the “good old days” when they worked at The Everett Clinic ten, fifteen, or twenty years ago or more. They say-- “In those days, I had more control over my work life, more respect from my patients, and spent less time at work”. They compare the “good old days” with today, where they feel less in control of what they do, how they do it, and more accountable for what they do.
This autumn, I will have worked at The Everett clinic for 20 years. When I look in the mirror, I think to myself—“That guy looks just like me, but older!” I have learned a lot about myself over these last two decades. But I have to admit that my strengths are still my strengths, and my weaknesses, well, they are still my weaknesses. I don’t think I have changed too much.
I can tell you, that the “good old days” weren’t all good. There were still pressures, but they were different pressures. I remember looking through book length paper charts for records that were hard to find. I remember long days at the office back then too. But when you look back, it’s easy to forget those rough days and remember the things you appreciated. And then it’s easy to compare the things you dislike today with the things you liked yesterday. It’s our minds contrasting and comparing what we don’t enjoy today with what we liked yesterday (or yesteryear). This is a recipe for unhappiness.
But when I think about today, I think about what has stayed the same for me over these 20 years. I don’t have to go to Africa or India to help others. I get to help people with their life problems every day right here in Snohomish County. Over these last 20 years, I have continued to learn from my experience as a clinician. On good days, I think that I am even getting better at what I do!
But there is more. I have had the opportunity to participate in the lives of multiple generations and to help them solve life’s challenges and to improve the quality of their life. I have grown up with many of my patients—they were teenagers when I first met them and now they are adults and parents. I am really the fortunate one.
Today, we are engaging in many new and interesting experiments in how to improve the quality of health care. Because of our electronic medical record, we are able to measure our performance in ways that we couldn’t before. I am hopeful that our experiments of today will result in better patient outcomes tomorrow. I am hoping that we will learn how to improve our patient’s experience when they come to The Everett Clinic. I am hoping that providers and staff will continue to grow and learn. I am sure that some of our experiments won’t bear fruit, but I am also sure that some will.
There is something else that I have learned over the last 20 years. I have confidence in our community, our patients, our providers, our staff, and our administrators. This confidence has grown over the years, as we have all grown up together. None of us are perfect. We have all made our share of mistakes. There have been good days and bad days. But in my opinion, there has been a constant throughout these years, something that has not changed—a commitment and dedication to doing what’s right for every patient.
This is the heart and soul of The Everett Clinic. And this is why I still love what I do and where I work.
Patients, staff, and providers of The Everett Clinic—What do you think?