Inside the Doctor’s Mind …
My father Dr. Charles Kelly lived in Monmouth Beach for five decades.
Growing up in a physician’s home I learned firsthand the medical profession’s contributions to humanity cannot be underestimated. Few professions can match them when it comes to skill, dedication, hard work, compassion and accomplishment.
While observing my physician-dad’s long career, a thing that sticks out was his devotion to his patients and their own high regard for him. In today’s troubled time for doctors, this is what gives me some hope that the medical profession may yet endure. In fact, today’s doctors still cite time with patients as the “most meaningful” part of their work.
Here are a few other random thoughts on why my father had such considerable achievement in life:
• Highly Intelligent — In following my dad’s career, meeting his colleagues, and working with and interviewing other doctors, I always got the impression that they were very smart. According to IQ test history, medical professionals are the perennial champs when it comes to brains. I’m sure there are exceptions, and of course, being a good doctor also requires hard work, sacrifice, and patience.
• On Call — Of my father’s 25 direct descendants (8 children and 17 grandchildren) just one became a physician — my nephew, Andrew L. Kelly, MD. Some 70 years separate his graduation from medical school and my father’s (both were in New York though). Andrew’s father, retired after 35 years in the sheet metal union, summed up best why the lack of doctors in the family: “Dad was never home with us. He left on his birthday and ours. He was gone on Christmas, July 4th, the weekends, weddings, you name it. Who wants that?” Makes sense.
• I’m a Believer — My dad once said “if anyone should believe in God, it’s doctors” (about 85% of doctors call themselves “spiritual,” according to a recent survey). My father was a regular church attendee and supporter and wanted his family to be religious too. For a guy who suffered considerable tragedy in his life (more personal, less professional) it stands to reason that his faith got him through some very rough times.
• It’s Five O’clock — That my father was able to live to nearly 90 and most of that in good health meant he did many things right. One he told me about was “moderate consumption of alcohol.” His practice was to have two drinks every night — which he did for 50 years. Vodka was his drink of choice and he frequently called beer (my own fave) the drink “of the common lot.” Guess that was an insult?
“People work for money but go the extra mile for recognition.”
• Hobby Helps — A “physician resilience” expert says a key to combating burnout is for doctors to have a ready outlet. Something to take their mind, body and soul away from the pressures of medicine. My father’s success as a doctor is plainly linked to his ability to find those escapes. Some of his more offbeat diversions included: Native American art, ice skating, ballet, and Tom & Jerry cartoons.
• Nice Ride — The doctor and a sports car might be seem like a cliché, but my dad played his part. He had a few of them (the 1954 MG being his fave) before he started on a big family. (Toyota and Honda are now the most popular autos for MDs.) Dad always explained to me and others that doctors bought the best cars because “they need a reliable vehicle to get to them to their life-saving work.”
• Poor Penmanship — Without a doubt my father had the worst handwriting in the world. I never saw anything as bad. The only ones who could read his script were my mom and our local pharmacist. Dad said it was from so much note-taking in med school. Too bad he missed out on the digital prescriptions of now.