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Why We Need to Show Doctors Gratitude

Each day, Dr. Karen Kinsell goes into work to see her patients in a former Tastee Freeze stand. She works 11-hour days, into the night, seeing 30+ patients per day. She forgoes a lunch break in favor of seeing more patients in the afternoon.

It’s not the glamorous lifestyle we often picture for physicians, as we see in television shows like Grey’s Anatomy. But to her patients, she’s a hero. As the last operating physician in the entirety of Clay County, Georgia, she’s their lifeline. The local hospital shuttered more than 30 years ago.

Especially during a physician shortage, doctors are burned out and need to feel appreciated.

Photo: Hyosub Shin, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

It’s a hard time to be a physician in the United States. Eighty-one percent of physicians in a Physician’s Foundation survey said they were overworked or at capacity. After seeing patients all day, most physicians spend at least an additional hour on paperwork. They can’t spend as much time with patients due to mounting regulations and resource constraints.

On top of everything, physicians are expected to be up-to-date on all the latest insights and research. They’re expected to always know the right path. They’re expected to never make mistakes.

Meanwhile, our country faces a dangerous physician shortage. We’re looking at a shortage of as many as 90,000 doctors by 2025. There are more than 6,000 Primary Care Healthcare Professional Shortage Areas in the United States, and more than 4,000 areas lacking Mental Health Professionals. With a growing population and aging Baby Boomers, the demand is greater than ever for access to healthcare.

We need physicians. Having access to a primary care physician is one of the best things you can do for your health long-term. More than half of physicians say they wouldn’t encourage their own children to go into the profession, according to the Physician’s Foundation.

We often think of what our doctors can do for us, but what can we do for our doctors? A simple thank you can go a long way. (Submit your #ThankADoctor note at the link.)

Every American has a story of how a physician shaped their lives – or the lives of the ones they love. Let’s remember and remind physicians that we care.

Check out the full gallery of #ThankADoctor notes.