Busy times, just when I think it will slow down it goes the other way.
I’ve practiced medicine for 36 years, seen thousands of patients and performed tens of thousands of procedures. I have become an expert at many cosmetic dermatologic procedures and it never gets old, because of the people. I love my patient relationships. If I had to do my job and never speak to my patients I would have quit years ago, once I mastered the techniques. It is the getting to know people, their lives, their families and sharing my life with them that satisfies me. Don’t misunderstand, the skills, temperament, persistence and judgment required to be a doctor are accomplishments that I am so very proud of. After one third of a century (!) those things are the biggest part of me. I’ve practiced medicine longer than I have done anything else in life.
Now in my 60’s the question that I am asked the most is: when are you going to retire? It surprises me that retirement is even a question. Dermatologists don’t retire, they just fade away. I can’t imagine not doing what I love to do. I can’t imagine not connecting with my patients on a daily basis.
But things do change. Over the last 4 or 5 years I have been fortunate enough to be asked to share my experiences. I get to lecture to physicians in countless cities across North America and worldwide now. I still see my beloved patients in Scottsdale but now I also get to relate to people all over the world, too. The experience has taught me a lot, things I didn’t get in medical school.
The world is a much smaller place than I thought. People are the same and they are different. Relationships with people with whom I do not share a language or a culture are priceless.
Korea was my first trip to Asia. I was out of the US for a total of 36 hours, talk about a whirlwind! But even though it was so brief, I made time for a walk through a mall, bumping elbows with locals in Seoul, so familiar yet so foreign. I have taken more time on subsequent trips, back to Seoul with a side trip to the North Korean border with a Russian tourist, Sao Paulo and a detour to the Amazon with a female Brazilian oil tanker pilot. So many faces and relationships. Dubai, Kuwait, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Taiwan, all places I never thought I would see, people I couldn’t imagine knowing, made possible by teaching and training international physicians.
It has turned out to be an unexpected privilege after years of private practice and I am so grateful that new challenges keep appearing. Me, retire? I don’t think so….