Fishing, Kindergarten, and The Survival of Primary Care.

Yes. That is me in the middle.

Yes. That is me in the middle.

Do you like to go fishing? I do on occasion. Although, as I age I at times feel sympathy for the fish. But, I digress.
Many years ago as a student I did a family practice rotation in a great rural location in Pennsylvania. I liked this place so much I worked there immediately upon graduation from Physician Assistant school. My meager experience limited my fishing skills. On several occasions as a child and teenager I recall awakening early. I mean early in the morning and driving from our home in Southeastern Pennsylvania to the Chesapeake Bay. We rented a small skiff and fishing equipment and if fortune found us we wrangled some flounder out of that water. Most of our day, and I must admit favorite part of the trip, consisted of crashing through the waves in the skiff. Our father let my brothers and I steer the boat using the outboard motor. What a blast! Experiencing fatherhood, I realize that my father had true grit allowing us to do this. You see he didn’t like waiting and waiting for fish to bite any more than we did. But he risked his life for our joy.
One day we made a trip to a fish hatchery. The rules, you kept what you caught and paid by the pound. No catch and release. No hook or bait restrictions. No size limits. The trout hit on a hook with no bait. We bankrupted our father in less than one hour. This, by far remains my favorite fishing expedition of all time. Sadly, this hatchery was destroyed by Hurricane Agnes. I do recall several other fishing excursions. They did not involve catching fish. They involved putting a deep sea sinker and some hooks on the line and drowning worms or feeding the fish corn that fell off of my hook. They involved poison ivy , mosquito bites and on one occasion getting our station wagon stuck up to the axels in mud.
My fishing experience changed in Perry County Pennsylvania when I met Jim. Jim worked at a facility near the health center that I worked at. He loved the outdoors and loved to fish. I’m not sure what he is up to now. However, it is trout season in Pennsylvania and I’m sure he caught his limit today. I never met a man before or since who could catch trout like him. He always used live minnows and a treble hooks. He took me under his wing and taught me how to fish. He entered crowded fishing holes with the minnow and hook securely hidden in his fist and boldly asked, “How’s the fishing boys?”. Invariably the resounding response from the mob, “They ain’t biting Jim.” Jim smirked and through his bush of a beard said, “Is that so?”. He lowered his polarized sunglasses and went to work. In less than a minute at least four nice sized rainbow trout wriggled, stranded on the bank of the creek behind him. When asked what kind of bait he was using he would keep that minnow tucked in his hand, smile and say “Worms.” We went to hole after hole and repeated this action. This was a true chilly willy the penguin moment. You see, he caught my limit too.
Your probably asking yourself. “What’s this got to do with Kindergarten.” I’m getting there, I promise.

One of the things that we are taught in Kindergarten is to share. To get along with others. Hopefully with the help of our parents and what they taught us this carries into our adult lives. You see, Jim did not like to share his knowledge of how to catch fish with just anyone. I truly feel privileged he helped me. But I have to admit. I never reached the ability to catch trout like him. True, I improved. I learned catching trout did not simply involve using a minnow or how it was baited. Jim possessed a finesse, a talent, gained by experience and a love of the sport.

Do you like your job? Little wonder if you don’t, 40 percent of primary care physicians at any given time are experiencing symptoms of burnout. Do you like your patients? Do you love your job? Do you love your patients? Do you have experience and knowledge that could be beneficial to the survival of primary care? Why not share it?
I recommend a book that I read in the past and refer to frequently. Love Your Patients! by Dr. Scott Diering. This is a must read for anyone experiencing difficulty with patient satisfaction, professional satisfaction or communicating with patients.

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