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Riddle me this:

I deal with many different people, many of them very ill with lots of various communicable diseases. Not only do I need to spend much time with them in close quarters, I have to keep them calm and placid and often make physical (often intimate) contact with them. And I do this because its my job and, hopefully, I enjoy helping these people while risking my health every single day. What am I?

I’m a physician. And we are all very grateful for your efforts and the risks that you take to help us with our “health-styles”.

At work I deal with the public (most of them feeling fine) all day long. It’s not always a picnic, customer service definitely has its challenges. I can’t imagine dealing with many of these same people when they aren’t feeling well. “The Patience of Job!”

Many argue that doctors make lots of money, too much. So? If someone has a calling to help people, learning the wheres, the whys, and the hows of the human body and then is willing to spend the time through medical school, residency, and eventual clinical or private practice, enduring crazy hours (like double, even triple! shifts) they should get paid well. Remember, most of them are exposed to many kinds of infectious diseases throughout the course of their day.

If money is someone’s prime career motivator there are much better professions–like lawyer, banker, investor, real estate broker.

And lets not forget the nurses and physician assistants (PAs) and the rest of the hospital/clinic staff. Most of these positions will pay far less, but they still incur much the same risks.

So i now ask, Why are people willing to risk their own health to help virtual strangers? Same question could be asked of policemen, firemen, combat soldiers, and many other professions that put the needs of the public (of people) ahead of personal safety.

I’m almost done with a nasty three-day (so far!) bought of walking pneumonia. And when I needed to go to a local walk-in clinic two days ago, it never occurred to me then, what is occurring to me now. The nurses, staff, and doctor who saw/tested/diagnosed me were full of calm and reassurance. They deal with often extreme illnesses/conditions and not one of them was wearing a “sars  mask” or even plastic gloves (no “internal” investigation needed–thank god!)

The treated me well and with concern. And even though the waiting room was fairly full upon arrival, they got to each of us in a timely manner. I was in and out within an hour, antibiotics in hand.

I will often complain about the rising costs of healthcare. And I’m sure the bill I get for this visit will reaffirm my reason for complaining. But I’m not going to blame the people at the front lines, the ones who generously and kindly helped me. These high costs are a result of many things, but I don’t believe that the salaries of the staff, nurses, or doctors are the principal cause. More likely the result of all those “extra” lawyers, investors, and bankers in the world;)

So today, as I recuperate, I’m simply saying thank you to those who helped me and to all the healthcare professionals who help millions of people worldwide every single day. Glad you’re here for all of us (even the lawyers).


Chad Schulz, Dec 2013