“My son needs see the doctor about his acne, TOMORROW!” The receptionist was caught off guard and unsure how to respond. While it is our policy to always see patients who have an urgent she was pretty sure that there was no such thing as a zit emergency. The call came on a Thursday afternoon and we were booked solid on Friday so she decided not to work the patient in. She took a message and told him we would call him back later.
At the end of the day they brought the message to my attention. It seemed a little absurd and unreasonable to the staff that someone could expect to be seen last minute for pimples. I almost never turn a patient away but they let me know this was not a time to go soft. They told me that I spoil my patients and do not say “No” enough and they made it clear that this was a time when I should put my foot down.
“This is ridiculous!” they said, “they should have planned ahead of time. It is not your responsibility to bail them out because they forgot!” The rant lasted a few minutes/
They were right on every count. It was absurd and unreasonable. No doctor could reasonably be expected to squeeze in a last minute pimple appointment. (Pun intended!) They should have planned in advance and it was not my responsibility that they hadn't. I had every right to deny the request and no one could tell me I was wrong if I did.
But the thought came to me, “Is it only about being in the right?”
I thought about my Christian faith, which teaches that all people have gone astray and turned against God’s plan, and that we are all deserving of punishment. I thought that God could have looked at me and said, “You are going to hell!” and He would have been RIGHT. But God didn’t do that. He looked at me in my ridiculous stupidity and wrongness and decided that instead of punishing me, He would send His Son instead. He overlooked my wrongness and went above and beyond to help me.
With that in mind I told my staff that while we could turn the patient away and be “right”, overlooking their wrongness would only add 15 minutes to my workday. So together we all agreed that we were right and the patient was wrong, but that we would see the patient anyway, because that is how we would want to be treated.
We saw the patient the next day and I refilled the acne medication. I do not think that he appreciated or understood that he was being done a favor or that a special allowance had been made. That was okay. For me, the reminder that it is not always about being right was its own reward.
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