Thanksgiving Day, with its feasts, family, and football, is one of my favorite holidays of the year. I love the smells, the warmth, the giggles from the kids table, and the sincere pre-feast prayer of thanksgiving.
Here are just a few I’ve-been-wanting-to-thank-you’s that I wrote just prior to this Thanksgiving Day 2015 but which are applicable to any day of the year. Dear patients, nurses, colleagues, and last but not least, my family, thank you.
10 – Dear anonymous gift giver, I’ve been meaning to thank you.
This past Thanksgiving, my little family, thousands of miles from our families, was looking forward to enjoying Thanksgiving dinner at the grace of the wonderful chefs and staff of a beautiful restaurant in town. The day before Thanksgiving I mentioned this plan to a few of my patients and coworkers, and much to my surprise, found a folded, purse-tattered gift certificate to our Thanksgiving Day restaurant in my mailbox just moments before leaving the office. This gift, anonymous but treasured, was one I will never forget, and please know it was received with my sincere thanks.
9 – Dear parents and caregivers, I’ve been meaning to thank you.
I can only imagine how difficult it may be to insist that your stubborn-but-adorable, independence-hungry three-year-old wear a sticky patch over one of their eyes as you heroically fight against amblyopia, how challenging it is to teach your elder father to steady his shaking hands enough to put in eyedrops everyday, or how difficult it is to coordinate your work schedule to spend hours in clinic waiting rooms in support of your child, your aging parent, or your close friend. Your sacrifice is significant and your love-demonstrating support is appreciated. Thank you.
8 – Dear hospital phone operator, I’ve been meaning to thank you.
I don’t know you personally, and will likely never meet you, but knowing you are just a phone call away at all hours of the day is comforting, helpful, and so very appreciated. Whether it’s helping me find an obscure hospital room or connecting me with a patient calling in with a concern, thank you for being there for me. We rarely speak more than a few words, and I rarely have the chance to thank you before you must leave to answer another caller’s plea for help, but thank you, thank you, for always being there for me.
7 – Dear Emergency Room Physician, I’ve been meaning to thank you.
You triage traumas, treat coughs, and tackle illnesses of all kinds on the front lines of medicine. You must know a little bit of everything but must also know when to call in for specialist reinforcements. You and I speak only when you are calling with a question or asking me to come in to help with a challenging eye-related problem, but I know there are many, many other times when you triage and treat eye problems on your own without any help. For both the times you do need me and the many other times you don’t need me, thank you. I appreciate you.
6 – Dear academic attending physician, I’ve been meaning to thank you.
You have dedicated your career to the training of tomorrow’s doctors. Your teaching has the same formative magnitude as a young, elementary school teacher inspiring young minds to grow, mature, and apply knowledge for future scenarios. When you patiently teach during surgery or discuss with me the challenging cases from the day, I hang on your every word like a child to her teacher. When you tell me I’m doing a good job or even just offer subtle encouragement, I cheer inside as your reassurance gives me the confidence to one day practice without you by my side, but with your encouraging words forever in my memory. Thank you.
5 – Dear clinic or surgery patient, I’ve been meaning to thank you.
You have come from near and far to our academic medical center to see the best physicians medicine has to offer, and sometimes appear concerned when I introduce myself as a resident physician working with Dr. So-and-So, and explain that I will be helping with your case. Thank you for affording me the privilege of being your physician. Thank you for allowing me to be involved in your care. You will forever have your own chapter in my book of experiential medical knowledge, being more than just words on a page but a name, a handshake, a face, and a friend. Thank you for allowing me to care for you.
4 – Dear radiologist, pathologist, and medical technologist, I’ve been meaning to thank you.
In most cases without seeing the patients for which you are responsible, you work in the deep, dark, under-appreciated recesses of the hospital. Your job is challenging, stressful, and demanding. You are asked to read more studies and review more slides in less time every day. It is said that pediatricians treat two patients, the child and her parent, yet you specialists treat two, and often three patients, as you must care for both the patient and/or their child, but must also care for and communicate with the clinician who depends on you for expert guidance and instruction. Please know how much you are appreciated.
3 – Dear hospital administrator, I’ve been meaning to thank you.
You are typically disliked by physicians for the policies, the competencies, and the administrative duties over which you lead, yet without you, we could not do our job, and without you, there would be no patients. The infrastructure you create gives framework to healthcare and is the foundation upon which the house of medicine is built. Your spreadsheets give structure, your flowcharts give organization, and your budgets give direction to the work we do each and every day. Thank you for choosing to use your valuable skills to continuously build the house of medicine for us all, and, most importantly, for our patients.
2 – Dear nurses, I’ve been meaning to thank you.
You are the talented musician which make the music of medicine play so beautifully. You are the drummer’s steady beat, ensuring all medications, tests, and therapies are performed at their correct time, you are the violinist communicating the informative melodies and instructions to patients in a way that resonates with every listening ear, and you are occasionally the trumpets, singing louder and higher than the rest of the noise, ensuring that important signs or symptoms are noticed. Thank you for your dedicated, and not-often-enough-appreciated, hard work.
1 – Dear family, I’ve been meaning to thank you.
You have endured many nights watching Netflix alone while I study, many mornings without me at home, and many holidays like today with me at the hospital. You are an important part of every accurate diagnosis, every uncomplicated surgery, and every successful treatment. You sacrifice in a way that only other spouses and family that have experienced the challenges of medical training will ever understand. Thank you for your support of our dreams, the encouragement of our goals, and the cheers of our successes, for yours is a critical part of them all.
To all mentioned above, and the many others time and space will not allow, I’ve been meaning to thank you.
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