Expand Your Boundaries
One of the things I like to do in my spare time is community theater. It offers me the chance to do something totally different from my regular job, be someone else, and have alot of fun with local people who are both talented and dedicated to their craft. My current play closes this weekend. Crowds have been small but appreciative. With so much competition this time of year with proms, sporting events, and school activities, it can be hard to pull a crowd in to see us.
One thing I have noticed is that my patients, perhaps more than any other group, appreciate the fact that I am not so self-indulged that I cannot laugh at myself. They like seeing me up there on stage, acting in a comedy or drama. It shows them a different side and helps them relate to me in their hour of need. It offers an ice-breaker when they are in the emergency room; they often relate their symptoms to something one of my characters experiences in a play. We have an instant rapport because they feel like they know me and can trust me.
In my opinion, we should look for creative ways to help our communities. Sure, we all look for medical ways to help out; what good therapist doesn't? But there is more to offer to communities and our patients than just our hospital persona. They want to know us. They want to trust us. They want to see us as human beings, just like them, with a life outside of patients.
Maybe your thing isn't doing community theater. That's fine. Find something. Volunteer at a shelter. Offer to help out local civic organizations. Do something. The old axiom is that people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. Going to work every day, doing the important things you do for your patients is great. Next chance you get, go a little beyond yourself. Do something totally different. Express yourself. Be creative. You may find the rewards are every bit as important as those you receive at work. I know I have.