The end of my yearlong assignment in Virginia was bittersweet. When I finally accepted that I needed to move on, I was reminded of one of the best parts of locum tenens – looking forward to the end. The things that used to bother me before didn’t bother me anymore. If the medical assistants were short staffed and took forever to bring my patient back, I no longer cared. The demanding or pessimistic patient that normally frustrates me, no longer impacted me.
It was tough to say good-bye to my patients. For some reason the majority of them were in a good mood during my last visit with them. For example, one of them randomly said: “You are really great. I’ve never had anyone explain things to me the way that you do.” This made it hard to tell her I was leaving. During a follow up with another patient, he said: “Man, you are the best! You remember everything about me and follow up on things from last visit. You review notes from my specialist before I see you. You don’t just fix everything with a pill. You explain things thoroughly and find natural ways for me to improve.” After telling him that I was leaving, he nearly caused a scene.
Many of the patients were extremely disappointed, some even cried (both men and women). I re-focused them to realizing that most importantly their health had improved significantly over the past year, and they know what to do to continue on that path. I also reassured them that since I would be working in their Florida clinic, I would be able to check on them from time to time and perhaps even see them again in the future.
I think I became too attached to the patients, but with our healthcare model, it was hard not to. The patients came every month or even more frequently, some I spoke to via phone on a weekly basis. I knew their husbands and wives pretty well too. Our goal is to keep our patients out of the hospital, and the only way I knew how to do that was to develop trust and bond with them.
My last day was extremely sad. I had never cried so much in my life. Not only was I going to miss my patients but I was going to miss my co-workers too. Our clinic is big with about 50 employees, more than half of them I was really close to. Any time one of the physicians or medical assistants would mention they were sad I was leaving, I would break down and cry. I was even super close to the Medical Director, who honestly acted like my guardian angel while I was there. It was weird knowing I wouldn’t be seeing them on a daily basis anymore. On the bright side, the Medical Director promised to fly me up for their annual holiday party and we agreed I could always come back in the future to help out when I wanted to.
The clinic surprised me with a sweet party. Everyone went around in a circle and said some nice words about me. The Center Manager told me he was so glad that I came because I brought a new uplifting energy to the clinic and between the other PCPs. The clinic also surprised with me with this beautiful gift:
I never knew leaving a job would be this hard! Yet, I am so grateful for my experiences there over the past year, and will continue to cherish the relationships I have built. I am looking forward to my next adventure and will try not to stay at one place as long again.