Michael Dowling: Giving thanks to family, friends and for the privilege of working in healthcare

In today's society, many of us are often consumed by our day-to-day activities. We're stressed, worried and preoccupied by our jobs. In healthcare, our work commitments are imperative to our ability to provide safe and reliable care to our patients. But it's equally important to take the time to reflect and recognize how rewarding our careers are, despite the stress and frustration that sometimes occurs during challenging times. 

As Thanksgiving approaches, I'd like to take the opportunity to express my gratitude to Northwell Health, my family and friends. While I try to give people the thanks they deserve all year round, this holiday is truly the  optimum time to show others how much I appreciate them.

First, I'm extremely thankful that my family and I are in relatively good health. I've had several surgeries over the past few years, and it's great to be feeling better as I get older. Especially in the business of healthcare, where all of us inevitably witness so much pain and suffering in patients and their families, I realize  how lucky I am to be in good health. I've seen many families fight unbelievably hard and expend so much energy and strength to get through serious health problems. Being in healthcare provides you with a perspective unlike any other industry.

Another thing I'm thankful for is the privilege of engaging with some truly wonderful people. Humans are social animals. We crave meaningful interactions, and at Northwell Health, I'm very privileged to work with great teams in every level of the organization. The people here are inspiring. Every day is an education for me — there are so many people from different places, cultures and religions. We become more knowledgeable every year because the diversity of our workforce makes us more open minded.

Given the work that we do, healthcare professionals should feel unbelievably privileged to have the opportunity to do our jobs and be in a position where we can touch people's lives in such an intimate way. In some cases we are performing miracles for people who are in terrible situations. We are blessed by the opportunity to put families back together who might be broken apart by mental health problems, addiction or other major illnesses. There are not many professions that offer their employees the ability to provide the kind of care that we do.

More broadly, beyond the walls of Northwell Health's hospitals, I am thankful for life here in the United States. It's easy to become upset and complain about the issues we have, especially during what was an extremely contentious and divisive election season. But when I'm sitting at home watching TV or reading the newspaper about the troubles going on all around the world, watching refugees traversing hundreds of miles for a chance to live in safety and freedom, it really puts things in perspective. Despite our difficulties, we as Americans should count our blessings. Relative to many other people's situations in different countries, we are extremely fortunate.

Thanksgiving is an important holiday because it reminds us to slow down and think about the things in our lives for which we should be grateful. Without intending to, we often take many of these positive things for granted and don't adequately express our gratitude. We don't say thank you to those who are closest to us — our friends and family — for providing us support. And I consider the employees of Northwell Health to be family. We all support one another, whether formally or informally, and we want what's best for each other. We are united by our goal to provide the best care to our patients, and at the same time, we care for one another.

To my immediate family, my Northwell Health family and friends, thank you.

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