Practicing a Professional Attitude of Gratitude

February 6, 2024   |   PA

I happened to be on a Retreat this past weekend and among the closing remarks, one of the participants mentioned “having an attitude of gratitude.” We are all familiar with attitude as we may have personally developed an attitude at different times in our lives. Attitudes can be considered good or bad or neutral, but they remain a part of the psychological makeup of humans on this planet. I have seen good attitudes in practicing medicine from both students, practitioners, and administrators, as well as patients. In retrospect, I have seen poor or bad attitudes from the same subset. Sometimes those attitudes were earned and at other times they were unfairly labeled on us for no reason, except perhaps the other person’s impatience. If you are a patient that has waited six hours in an emergency room to be seen, inadvertently you will encounter a host of patients with a poor attitude. On the other hand, if you have just made a speedy and proper diagnosis, the recipient and their families will have an attitude of praise and perhaps even write a letter to your section chief or administration. We may never fully understand the depth of attitude, but it is certainly worth studying.

William Arthur Ward once wrote, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it”. Attitude changes everything. A sign once shouted with the comment, “Attitude is everything.” American author and motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar once said, “Of all the attitudes we can acquire, surely the attitude of gratitude is the most important and by far the most life changing”. During our academic education as well as in our residencies we have encountered excellent teachers and mentors who have influenced our lives and forged us into the excellent clinicians that we have become. I cannot overemphasize the importance of demonstrating our gratitude to them either verbally, in a letter or by quoting them in an article or book or while functioning as a speaker at a conference. My wife, who was a High School educator never fails on a yearly basis to receive accolades from past students who are grateful for her influence on their lives. This, in most cases, is far better than receiving a present from her husband of forty-six years.

There are many times during the year to demonstrate an attitude of appreciation or love to your spouse, your past professors and even your patients. Incidentally, this being the month of February, there is a special holiday that you do not want to miss, therefore, do not be be guilty of this infraction, the holiday is Valentines Day. Being an ethical professional, I refrain from sending a patient a Valentine Day card, but I have received a few during my career because of small things such as my concern or commitment or staying with a very sick patient at their bedside throughout the night. In general, most patients appreciate your time, concern, and efforts to retore them to health and to hold their hand as they are going under anesthesia in the surgical suite or are having an orthopedist perform a closed reduction without anesthesia, in the office or the ER.

IMHO, it is equally important to be grateful to your patients for their understanding, patience and forgiveness for an event that may have transpired while under your care. Some are paranoid that this is an admission of guilt cloaked in sincerity; but it is a sign of mutual respect because they have chosen you to be a part of their healthcare team and they recognize your fallibility and the fact that while you try to make their road to recovery as gentle as possible, you cannot anticipate their every problem such as their first rejection from an insurance company, or the rudeness of the finance office at the facility in which they were treated, or the ecchymosis from a poor venipuncture or the reaction from a medication. Mutual gratitude goes a long way to a successful relationship with a patient, particularly when there have been ‘bumps in the road’.

In closing, I implore you to ‘never forget’ to be thankful to the other members of the team who are usually unsung heroes or heroines such as the nurses, technicians, housekeeping, and janitorial staff. In addition, be grateful to your colleagues who have guided you during a procedure, who have assisted you in reading a radiograph, who helped to organize your interpretation of an EKG or have corrected your horrible incursions of letter writing. I am reminded to thank my wife, Celia, for editing my important work, my hundreds of articles and for reminding me to have a filter on some of my comments.

I also want to be thankful for all the Reps from the pharmaceutical companies who have helped our prescribing habits and for the surgical equipment representatives who not only come to our offices to introduce to us and to familiarize us with new techniques to make our procedure less invasive and painful. They also spend untold additional hours coming to the OR in the evening or on weekends to be a voice of experience with the utilization of that instrument in esoteric situations. Last ,but not least, I am eternally grateful to the malpractice experts and the clinicians who are instrumental in giving us an understanding of the law as it applies to possible predicaments that we have become embroiled in and deciphering the vocabulary of malpractice law and then in addition attempting to lead us into making a difference in our futures by securing the very best malpractice instrument for our practice setting, taking in account the needs, cost, and especially the peace of mind to know that we are represented in a courtroom by an expert who has guided us through a lawsuit. There is no substitute for their input and how they have alleviated the pain of a loss of personal income or the anxiety and pain of a judgement that could literally destroy our ability to practice. My company is an AA Best-rated, Superior and their gentle urgency is necessary to our longevity as PAs and NPs. Be happy, Be grateful.

Written For CM&F By: Robert M. Blumm, PA, DFAAPA, PA-C Emeritus
CM&F Clinical Advisor


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