I awoke with a feeling of excitement, hope, pride and fear. How would it go? Was everything ready? Had I forgotten any details? Who knows. Nevertheless, this was mine. This was my clinic, and these were my patients. People who had a choice to see whomever they wished yet chose to follow me as their doctor to my new practice.
On the drive to work, I had tears of joy. It was finally happening…. a dream being fulfilled. I opened the door to my new clinic and carried in my paperwork, a laptop, and my always faithful friend, the stethoscope. Today there would be no white coat.
As I was getting ready for my first patient, I tried printing a document and the printer didn’t work. I laughed. Nothing was going to get me down today. I walked around nervously getting ready, placing a cotton sheet on the exam table, getting the blood pressure cuff, finding paper to write notes on.
Then I saw her, my first patient, walking up the steps. She rode her bike to the appointment! Patricia! I originally met Patricia 5 years ago, and she helped us buy our house. Later, she became our neighbor and then later still she signed up to be my patient. One day as she was passing by on a walk with her dog, I told Patricia I was leaving my then medical practice to start my own clinic. She yelled “I’m going with you!”. And here she was. I gave her a big hug as she entered and showed her to the room. Our hour long appointment passed by in a flash. I had just seen my first patient in my own medical practice. At the end of the visit I asked if I could take a picture of us together as this was momentous occasion for me. She obliged.
In my clinic I didn’t feel rushed and neither did my patients. There were no insurance requirements to meet, no billing to do afterwards. The only thing I had to concentrate on was my patient. The way medicine was meant to be. As I walked Patricia to the front door and she rode away on her bike I had a giant smile on my face. Yes! It was happening!!!
Today I felt like the doctor I always wanted to be, for the first time, in a very long time.