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Changing Our Dance and Learning to Love It

Photo Credit:  John Gibbons on Unsplash

Most of us know someone who thrives on change.  They love to spice things up.  For them, the most maddening phrase is:  "but we've always done it this way."  The rest of us find security in knowing what we know, doing what we do well and living within our comfort zone.  We recently found ourselves at a crossroads in our lives with our medical practice.  The writing on the wall said:  "Don't expect to see a change if you aren't willing to make one."

TOM:  In our old practice, I felt comfortable in charge of the workflow, satisfied with the volume of patients and enjoyed the flexibility in our lives.  Our emphasis was not on a productivity metric that is so common in corporate medicine.  So, despite multiple conversations, it took me awhile to see that our 38-year-old practice model wasn't working and would not provide stability for our patients when we retire.

MF:  I was managing the finances of our practice and saw the writing on the wall.  Talking with Tom about finances and budgets was difficult.  It was hard to be gentle with Tom, especially when I was raised in a family who always paid cash for everything.  For me, our persistent negative cash flow was frightening.  My negativity wasn't working.

Tom can often see the positive in a new situation.  He is the eternal optimist.  I, too, could focus on the positive.  Tom is a great teacher and the change in our practice had the potential to involve increased opportunities for him to teach.  I chose to focus on this opportunity and the gifts an expanded primary care clinic would bring to our community.  I used our longevity of practice in this community, the many peer relationships we have developed to inspire confidence that this could work for the hospital, too.   We could make this work for us and our patients.  Together we wrote a proposal to the hospital describing our plans.  We both knew that this change did not have to extinguish our passion and primary focus on patient care.  I was not in denial, nor did I manipulate.  I simply chose to change my tone and to love Tom into this major change in our lives.  And, I will continue to love him through it.

TOM:  As of April, we became employees in a hospital-based practice.  Not being in charge is sometimes frustrating, but our sole responsibility now is serving our patients which is wonderful.  (And we get paid which is a nice perk.) We had to transition to a new facility with new staff, new patients, a completely new computer program, and a new chain of communication.  We also needed to facilitate transition for our patients.  Change bites nearly everyone especially during a Pandemic when anxieties are heightened.  

Photo Credit:  Raw Pixel

Patience and support have become our gifts to each other as we learn this new dance and steer this ship into harbor.  To say we are enjoying the dance is hyperbole.  The style is new.  The steps are tricky.  The tempo and mood of the Pandemic is ever challenging and changing.  Our key has been Trust.  Trusting each other to both lead and to follow.  The Dance is not yet beautiful.  The hours of practice are long.  But like a slow simmering stew, we trust that balance and beauty will come with time.  What has enabled you to face difficult change in your lives?  Sometimes the reality of the present is not as valuable as what could be.


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