Column Olijfblad #2 2018

While my colleagues were enjoying their well-deserved vacation, I was working. That work that I do every day with so much (com)passion, commitment and enthusiasm that makes me cycle home every day with a satisfied feeling. Of course it is also the work that sometimes keeps me awake. And it is also the work about which my eldest son regularly says: “Dad, you are not on duty, are you? Now it’s our turn.”

That day I dreaded my job. No, that’s not true, I didn’t dread the work, but I dreaded the day: I was the only gynecologist and oncologist in the hospital and outpatient department. A full police. We had discussed the ‘satisfaction surveys’ at the staff meeting a few weeks earlier. And patients were quite satisfied: the doctors were knowledgeable, the treatment was good, people listened and the opinion of patients was taken into account in the treatment recommendations. Quite something to be proud of. But there were also complaints. The waiting time at the outpatient clinic was head and shoulders above the other complaints. And I understand that very well: no one likes to sit and wait. And I understand very well that the chairs in the waiting room cause wooden butts, the coffee is better at home and the magazines are old.

So how was I going to get that job done? How was I going to make sure I didn’t run too late on that busiest day of the year? I decided it was all mind set. If I started on time, took control of the consultations and made sure that the thought “don’t overrun” didn’t disappear from my head, it would all work out. And so it happened: I finished my morning consultation right on time.

With that experience, I thought I would do the job again a few weeks later. But the 3rd third patient, while I was running right on time, was 8 eight minutes late and then still had to pee. And the patient afterwards had 2 sheets with all very real and important questions. Then another patient with an interpreter and so the last patient that I had scheduled during lunch, because there was no room otherwise, had to wait more than 3 forty-five minutes.