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I’ve Left Mainstream Medicine After 26 Years.  

Kerry Graff, MD shares why leaving medical practice and divorce trigger similar emotional states of both grief and relief.

September 18, 2023

I’ve left mainstream medicine after 26 years.

Or maybe I should say that mainstream medicine left me.  No longer able to treat my patients, people whom I care about deeply, with the time and attention they deserve has left me depleted and demoralized.

Six months ago, my existing contract with a large health care system was cancelled, and I was given the choice to sign a new contract with a workload that would further short-change my patients while simultaneously exhausting what little personal reserve I had remaining, or resign.

Well, I was offered one additional option-continuing my current workload of 55-60 hours a week—by going “part-time”.

That last bit was, honestly, what helped me see how insane the corporate practice of medicine had become.

I cried for three weeks, then submitted my resignation, effective in six months.

Which brings me to today-the day I actually walk away from work and leave for a hiking trip in Scotland.

 

No longer able to treat my patients, people whom I care about deeply, with the time and attention they deserve has left me depleted and demoralized. Click To Tweet

 

 

What I feel is eerily familiar to what I experienced during my divorce a decade ago.

All that was hoped for, all that should have/would have/could have been, comes crashing down despite years of dedicated work and commitment.

Grief.

 

I cried for three weeks, then submitted my resignation, effective in six months.

 

But at the same time, I am no longer struggling to fix the unfixable.

Relief.

My ex-husband and I went through four (yes, four!) couples counselors before I finally walked away.

My psychiatrist thought I was crazy when I told him my now ex-husband and I were going to meet with a fourth couples counselor.  After all, one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result!

But I wanted, needed, to leave it all “on the field”- I needed to know I had done everything in my control to save the marriage.

Plus, I wasn’t used to failing.

 

VC: Dana Corriel, MD

 

Downright refusal to quit when things were hard as hell had gotten me through Cornell, through medical school, and through residency.

It got me through years of infertility, through two complicated international adoptions, and through the early years of parenting children who both had special needs and absolutely abysmal sleeping habits!

But some things are just not fixable no matter how much I want them, how hard I am willing to work to make them reality, or how much time and money I invest.

My marriage failed.  And now, ten years later, my career, as I knew it, has failed as well.

I ride the familiar waves of grief…and relief.

 

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Shortly after my divorce ten years ago, I traveled to Ireland.

I found that walking, walking, walking on unfamiliar ground somehow helped me start the process of healing my broken heart.

In Ireland, hope found me as I walked along cliffs of staggering beauty, across fields so green that I couldn’t help but have faith that life was still inherently good, and through stoney portals that symbolized the transition between my past and a future I was only just beginning to re-imagine.

 

Some things are just not fixable no matter how much I want them.

 

Facing westward on the Atlantic shore, I gained a new perspective.

I sobbed as the ocean crashed noisily on the rocky beach and I recovered my breath as the water receded.

I rode the waves of grief and relief until the sea and I had both settled into a new understanding.

And now I am off to Scotland for a few weeks, hoping to once again find an invitation to a new beginning, hoping to find another unfamiliar and beautiful path leading to the sea.

 

VC: nicolassimoes (IG), curated by Dana Corriel, MD

 

Kerry Graff, MD

Kerry Graff, MD

Using the power of lifestyle medicine to prevent and reverse chronic disease.

All opinions published on SomeDocs-Mag are the author’s and do not reflect the official position of SoMeDocs, its staff, editors. SoMeDocs is a magazine built with the safety of free expression and diverse perspectives in mind. For more information, or to submit your own opinion, please see our submission guidelines or email opmed@doximity.com. Do you have a compelling personal story you’d like to see published on SoMeDocs? Find out what we’re looking for here and submit your writing, or send us a pitch.

All opinions published on SomeDocs-Mag are the author’s and do not reflect the official position of SoMeDocs, its staff, editors. SoMeDocs is a magazine built with the safety of free expression and diverse perspectives in mind. Do you have a compelling personal story you’d like to see published on SoMeDocs? Submit your own article now here.

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