I read a story about a father who gave his son an old car. He told his son that he wanted him to take the car to three specific places for an appraisal before doing anything with the car. The first place looked at the piece of junk and offered $200 to get if off his hands. The second location offered $2000, as the appraiser recognized that with a car wash and fixing up, it could be resold for a big profit. The appraiser at the third location looked captivated and was amazed that such a rare antique had just been brought it and offered $200,000 without reservation! The son was shocked and asked his father why he wanted him to go through the exercise. The father looked him in the eyes, and with a gentle smile said, "Son, I wanted you to be aware of the importance of the car's value, but more importantly I want you to recognize your own value.
The first appraiser lacked the wisdom to know the value of the car and dismissed its value without hesitation. Perhaps some of you are working for healthcare systems where the administration does not know your value and does not care to. These narcissistic systems will work you until you die a slow death by thousands of paper cuts. They will professionally gaslight you and never admit your value because the system lacks the capacity and competency to push you forward. Run and get out fast! You deserve so much more, like your independence!
The second appraiser knew the car had some value and could be resold for a great profit margin. I suspect many of you may work for healthcare systems like this. Your value is appreciated at times. You sit on committees, you start initiatives, and your opinion is solicited. You have worked very hard to improve the quality scores for your organization. They gave you a trophy at the annual luncheon. Your hard work is appreciated because you are making millions of dollars for your administrative leaders. Last I checked, most Family Docs are not making $500, 000/year. "They" thought you would be happy with your base salary in the $200, 000+ range, and never ask questions. Perhaps you are indeed content and professionally fulfilled. I'll let you answer that.
The third appraiser knew the value from the start and told the truth of the value. In this practice setting, you are allowed to practice as much of the full scope of family medicine as you want! Your value is known and rewarded! You leave work fulfilled and satisfied, the "administrative burden" does not burn you out, because you are allowed to explore other outlets for professional and personal fulfillment. You share in the profit margins in a meaningful way, but you also take risks. This setting may strike some of you as unrealistic, but as I travel around as your President this year, I am pleased to report that settings like this still exist and are thriving though fewer in number.
No matter the type of practice setting, YOU ARE VALUABLE! But it takes more than you are recognizing this to ignite the movement. The MDAFP exists to amplify your voice and to help others see your value.
Like Harriet Tubman, we need to continue building strong networks by reaching out on personal levels to help our colleagues know their true value. Why are we allowing ourselves to work in our "pajamas" after long workdays for free? Know your value, live up to it, and accept nothing less!
Reflection: Are you professionally content? Why or why not? What are you willing to do about it? How can the MDAFP help? Please let us know. We won't know if you don't reach out. Let's work together for each one to reach one!
Ariel Warden-Jarrett, MD, FAAFP