Tuesday, June 19, 2007

a doctor's poem

she said anyone could reprint it and
I've posted it on my blog as well.

i think it shows what has been done to all of us
INCLUDING doctors and others that try their best to care
for us and themselves.

what do you think?

Quota by Dr. Katherine Ottaway

I feel despair
when I try
to think about the new schedule

Twenty four slots
Of 20 minutes
See three people
For 40 minutes
Twenty on the schedule
Pray for two no shows

Unanswered questions
Wake me Sunday morning
If I am called to a labor patient
Must I make up that clinic face time?
What of holidays?
The clinic is closed.
Night call is nowhere addressed
Will they hire more and more
Who don't take call
Until I am the last woman standing
Red rimmed eyes staring
Numb with fatigue

What of my nearly deaf patient
Who reads lips
May we take forty minutes?
All the fairly deaf elderly?
New parents, anxious
Questions pour out like
Coins from a jackpot win
What of the tearful brokenhearted
And anxious?
I shrink at the thought
Of crushing their hearts
Into twenty minutes

And what if I am sick?
(no paid leave)
If I cancel clinic
For illness
Do I make up those days
A quota of patient face days

I am in the factory
The mines
People are the shirts I must sew
The tons of coal I must load
I must meet a quota

Doctors die younger
Our life is measured out
In patients

I won't let the quota
Kill my love

Katherine Ottaway


  1. Another medical professional has shared similar sentiments with me. The blurring of the line between service and production industries is especially pronounced in the medical profession, which you'd think would be about as far from the assembly line as you can get. It's heartening to know, from pieces like this, that there are those who still care. But it's tragic that they have to struggle to deliver the care they've devoted their lives to. And it's unacceptable that patients increasingly have to turn to alternatives to receive care, as opposed to processing.

  2. yes, yes it is.
    have you noticed over the past 10 years or more that it is very hard, if you are in the hospital, to tell just who is what?
    is this person coming in a nurse, what sort of nurse, an orderly, a doctor?
    they all dress very much alike and i've been told that is done on purpose so that the patient isn't really sure just who is delivering the specific treatment unless they introduce themselves.
    i wouldn't be surprised at this if it's true.