What is My Value as a Doctor?

Timothy P. Daaleman
Submitted: November, 2020

A weekly habit of viewing my performance data led me to question the value of my doctoring. I tried to answer this quandary in my head for months, but it was a patient encounter that revealed what I had been searching for. As a doctor I am bound to the care of another, especially when disease, disability, or injury create any space between a patient and their personhood. I stand in the breach. To offset my data habit, I have adopted a practice that reviews my patient care and interior movements at the end of the day. The daily exercise has uncovered a pattern in which my anger, despair, or isolation are invariably are tied to those times when I have failed to stand in the breach with a patient. More importantly, the practice illuminates my finest hours, when I have entered into that chasm with an unstated and binding promise to my patient that they will not be abandoned.

  • Patient-Centered