Every episode of Scrubs has an overall theme summed up with a moralistic ending and a great song to drive the message home. Most, if not all, of the characters come to the same grand realization at the end. The episode “My Best Moment” J.D. (the lead character) was put in charge of telling a group of medical students what it was to be a doctor; instead, he reminisced over his greatest moments and challenged his staff to relive theirs. In many ways, the L & A conference had this feeling for me.
It’s been 8 years since I was last on Capitol Hill. I have made a few odd trips to DC for one reason or another since then, but not to the Capitol building, not with an agenda, and never with so much energy and enthusiasm. My first trip was as a congressional intern for Dr. John Cooksey. He was the representative for the 5th district of Louisiana and an Optholmologist in Monroe (my hometown…of sorts). Few people that I had ever met commanded such respect and in the community, and his ability to be both a congressman and a doctor were legendary. Dr. Cooksey was a believer that to use the title of “Doctor” you needed to actually see patients and did so 3 days a week when the congress was in session (more when it wasn’t).
This trip to D.C. and meeting up with old colleagues now serving as staffers reminded me of those good times. “My Best Moments”, however, will be the times sitting around with my new physician colleagues trading stories on our starting points, our most difficult and most rewarding patients. The talks about the best (and worst) of being a doctor. Now, the most gratifying moment of the trip was the opportunity to share all of these stories with our representatives who were eager to hear first hand stories of the true “life in the ER”. They were exceptionally receptive to our ideas.
Unfortunately for me, of Louisiana’s 3 physician representatives, I was only able to meet with 1 (don’t fret, members of the LA-ACEP chapter met with them all). Dr. Cassidy (Congressman for the 6th district) embodied the best of what I remember about Dr. Cooksey. Considering himself to be first a physician, he told us all that if he could not properly treat his patients he would not stay in D.C. He also understood the lack of input by physicians into the current health care debate and felt a calling to speak on behalf of both physicians AND patients. That through his time working on policy he could ensure better care for a greater number of patients. Admittedly, only a small portion of our time was discussing the bills being presented; he majority of our time was spent discussing the needs of our patients and our desires to serve. It gave you a sense of relief to meet a representative who cared so much.
So…the end of that episode of Scrubs. Everyone recognized the great things that had come before, and that better things could come if they were to build upon that experience. Oh, and the song at the end of the episode…”Joy to the World” by The Butties. Fitting, indeed.
Next Installment: My Take Home Message…