Research assistance by Sara Johnson, Nicole Arata and Matthew Henry
The medical profession is in a constant state of flux.That’s tough for patients, because keeping up on the latest issues, ailments and cures can be a matter of life and death. It is with that in mind that every four years we publish our Top Doctors issue. But this year, we added something new: We sat down with five area practitioners to get a frank, behind-the-scenes look at what it’s really like to be a doctor – and how that affects you as a patient.
To hear doctors describe the situations they encounter daily is to question the sanity of those who choose to dedicate their lives to medicine. One physician tells of a former patient who had a psychological disorder and would mistreat the staff, disrupt the waiting room and abuse prescriptions. Another describes the stress of giving a patient the best care possible while the threat of malpractice hangs overhead. Then there’s perhaps the most frustrating scenario of all: when insurance rules and financial considerations interfere with giving patients the care they need.
But not everything is so bleak. There are also stories here about compassion, hope and the human spirit. Doctors’ daily lives are an endless series of highs and lows, inspiring successes and demoralizing defeats – to a degree the general public can scarcely imagine.