SATURDAYS IN THE SOUTH
Saturdays in the south—wow, that phrase conjures up a delightful picture: sleeping late, enjoying a leisurely breakfast, reading or catching a movie. For some people, maybe that’s accurate. For others, Saturday means shuttling kids to soccer games, attacking a bunch of “honey-do” chores, and in general trying to whittle down a list of things that need to be accomplished—but probably won’t.
There’s a special group for which Saturdays are just another day (even in the south), as are Sundays and holidays. High on this list are health care workers, a profession I was privileged to practice for many years. It’s a demanding life, but an important one. That’s why the dedication of one of my novels of medical suspense reads this way: This book is dedicated to that special group of health care workers who perform their healing labors as a true ministry. It was an honor to work alongside you for over four decades.
Is there anything unique about medical practice in the south? There once was, although it’s becoming less true with the passage of time. When I completed my specialty training and contemplated the location for my medical practice, I was told by an elder statesman of the profession to confine my choices to the south. When I asked why, his answer was succinct, but I found it to be good advice: “The further north you go, the faster the dance.” So I chose to practice in a suburban community in Texas, and wasn’t disappointed. I watched my sons play baseball and swim, saw all the speech events in which my daughter participated. It took some doing, but I managed not to dance so fast that I missed these important events.
All of my novels of medical suspense are set in Texas, so one might think the Saturday pace would be slower than those taking place in Boston or New York. That’s not really the case, though. Why? Because, in medicine, every day is pretty much like another, whether it’s Saturday or Wednesday, even in the south. True, routine surgery isn’t scheduled on weekends and a skeleton crew might we working in the lab and X-ray departments, but emergencies still happen, hospitalized patients develop problems, and some things can’t wait until the start of a normal business day. Since the issues may truly involve life and death, time is often of the essence.
I even encountered some of this when writing about pharmaceutical research as part of my latest book, Lethal Remedy. My own experience with clinical research during my time as a medical school professor was that I couldn’t do it well and punch a time clock. Maybe I could wear a golf shirt over my white coat on Saturday mornings, but I still had to be there.
Perhaps after reading about all this, your Saturday seems a little more leisurely by comparison. I hope it is. But don’t forget the health care workers who are on the job, Saturdays included. I hope you never need them—but they’re there, if you do, wherever you live.
Buy Lethal Remedy at
his website and his blog.
Thank you for that post, Dr. Mabry! As a healthcare worker who spent 11 years on the night shift at the local hospital, I can vouch for the truth of what you're writing. It sometimes felt like a thankless job, usually on those weekends and holidays. And then you truly make a difference to someone and you remember why you're really there in the first place.
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