Hitting a Nerve

What I will and won’t miss


Someday I plan to retire.

Dr. Allan M. Block, a neurologist is Scottsdale, Ariz.

Dr. Allan M. Block

Hopefully it’s not coming up anytime soon, but I’m sure it’s sooner than I realize. I’ve been in practice for 23 years, so I’m well past the halfway point of an average medical career.

I will miss a lot. There will be many things I won’t miss, but the job has far more good than bad, even today.

I’ve spent a lot of time at this huge desk, which my dad bought for his solo law practice in 1967. Although I won’t miss the lack of sleep, I will miss the silence of getting to the office before first light, making tea, and getting started for the day. It’s a peaceful daily start in a less-then-predictable job.

I’ll miss my patients. Not all of them, but most. The majority are decent people, and it’s an honor to be able to help them. Doing that has been the driving force that started me on this path a long time ago and still keeps me moving forward.

In some respects I’ll feel bad about retiring and leaving them. Some have been with me since residency. It will bother me that they’ll have to start over with a new neurologist. Hopefully that person will give them care as good, if not better, than I have.

I’ll really miss my staff. I’ve been lucky. They’re awesome, and have stayed with me for this crazy ride. My MA has been here since 1999, my secretary since 2004. At work they’re my family. Away from work they’re a part of my family. The three of us have survived my hospital call, good economic times, bad economic times, moving the office, my MA moving to the boondocks, the antics and events of our kids, and, as of now, a pandemic. They make the day fun. I’ll feel bad that they’ll need to change jobs if they’re still working then.

What I won’t miss are more concrete things – the endless forms, time spent on the phone and online to get medications and tests approved, the difficult (personality wise) patients who think being nasty and mean is going to get them better care, and having to practice CYA defensive medicine.

Medicine is a far from perfect job. But, in the overall balance of my life, it continues to be what I enjoy getting up and doing every day. It’s good to look back after 23 years, and still have, overall, no regrets about choosing this ride.

Dr. Block has a solo neurology practice in Scottsdale, Ariz.

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