Work/Life: Dr Douglas Meyer, the Patient Evangelist

DONATE TO DR DOUGLAS MEYER'S FAVORITE CHARITY

Douglas' family would like to create a functional memorial in his honor. In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations made in his name, Douglas F. Meyer MD, to the "Friends of Sagamore" as he loved children so much, sent
can be sent to the following address:

Sagamore Childrens Psychatric Center
"In Memory of Douglas Meyer, MD"
Friends of Sagamore
c/o Sagamore Children's Center
197 Half Hollow Road
Dicks Hills, NY 11746

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WHEN a customer in New York sent me a short email saying, "Google NY Post. Enter Dr Douglas Meyer", I admit I filed it in the "do much later if at all" box (and who's got time to click on all these endless FaceBook/LinkedIn etc emails?)

It was only when another customer blipped me a more informative email did the tragedy hit home, and I've been thinking about it ever since.

The kind, shy and gentle man I'd met a couple of times had jumped 17 floors to his death. Dr Doug Meyer was 44, had only just started dating someone, adored kids and was, according to his pal and colleague Steve Chang, a brilliant gastroenterologist.

"Doug was one of my closest friends," said Steve. "He was an academic gastroenterologist-liver transplant physician. He had the highest board scores in our residency class, and won the Muschel Award at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center (where we did our Internal Medicine Residencies), which is given to the most compassionate resident-physician."

Compassion! An award for compassion!

"Doug was more selfless than most doctors," said Steve. "As you read in the NY Post and other local papers, he cried whenever his patients suffered; he sang when he was treating them; he took his nurses out for dinners and evenings out, and on a personal note, he was one of the best friends we all could have ever had. Though he could afford a Mercedes, as he was a millionaire, Doug was quite humble and drove a little Chevrolet Metro. He was hardly flamboyant and quite grounded."

If ever there was a Customer Evangelist in the medical world, it would perhaps be called a "Patient Evangelist". And it would look, cry and sing like Doug Meyer.

My sad face momentarily brightened a notch with this thought - now why isn't an award for compassion offered in other areas of business?

We're obsessed with awards like "The Richest", "The Most Beautiful", "The Best Dressed", "The Worst Dressed" – all wonderfully superficial accolades in the scheme of things, but hardly contributory to world peace, loove and understanding. In truth, they generate the snatch-and-grab polar opposite by promoting envy, dissatisfaction and greed.

I have yet to see "The Most Compassionate Boss", "The Most Thoughtful Co-worker", "The Most Cheerful Janitor" grace the front of mags like Forbes, Fortune and … Fastcompany.

OK, why bother with such a sentimental, soppy award?

Think about it. Think of someone who, in your average working waking day, makes you smile – that cheery coffee shop owner who whistles Clair de Lune while pulling your macchiato even though you hate whistling; the delivery boy with the startled hair and impeccable manners; the CEO who pops his head around the door to tell his workaholic staff to go home before he does or they're in trouble; the encouraging MD with an ego no bigger than his mousepad and who always catches people doing something right.

There's got to be someone at the office who doesn't give you hell.

These individuals are a kind of workaday angel. They flutter about sprinkling invisible fairy dust in your in-tray and you don't even know it. Neither do they. They bolster productivity in kind and in doing so contribute indirectly but surely to the bottom line. For this they deserve an award, if for nothing more than helping stave off the onset of gray hair for co-workers.

The NY Post makes suggestions about Meyer being the victim of a tyrannical boss. Rather than believe tabloids, I started thinking separately about bosses and co-workers from hell.

There are laws against physical assault and abuse. But when it comes to emotional abuse, the law goes AWOL except for the recent landmark case of the Missouri Cyber Bully mom

Sadly, it was all too late to save that young defendant. And it involved a child - one wonders if the law would ever jump to the defence of a fully grown man cowering beside the water cooler from a ballistic boss. I've seen this happen in real life. I've experienced it first hand. I have the recurrent rashes to prove it.  Yet, as adults we're all expected tough it out, right? That's like saying to someone who's bashed in the street, "You should have had a black belt in karate," and throwing the case out.

Not everyone is "lucky" enough to have had a sufficiently abusive upbringing as prep for emotional abuse.

Does the medical profession offer training on how to be a good boss-doctor? Does the curriculum include reading "The 1 Minute Registrar", "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff Outside the Operating Theater", "Who Moved My Stethoscope?" and other books encouraging you to "catch your nurses doing something right"?

"Not at all," lamented Steve. "We really should take leadership developmental classes, but no such luck. I had the fortune, personally, to be groomed through college as I was a Scholar-Leader at my university. But only about 10 or 12 of us were chosen per class."

10 or 12. Lucky are the understudies of those 10 or 12  doctors.

Are there unsung angels and evangelists like the late Doug Meyer in you work/life? Please, applaud them here.


The Galfromdownunder notes that a search for the word "evangelist" on career websites brings up a long list of positions in a diverse fields, from combine harvesting to multimedia technologies – but not yet medicine. Dr Pamela Wible is one doctor out to change that.







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