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Why I Love My Job in Addiction Medicine

My Current Job and Why I Love It

I see patients at the Kalispell Opioid Treatment Program and also have numerous administrative duties as Chief Medical Officer for Community Medical Services. In this capacity I am in a position to set policies, deliver lectures, grand rounds, and ASAM courses, supervise other physicians and APPs, and participate in the operational functions as far as they affect medical care. I love treating addiction – patients often improve dramatically, sometimes within a few days of starting treatment. I have the opportunity to follow them over time as their lives improve and watch them make significant progress. Whenever I think I have “seen it all,” I find a new situation that requires working with our team as we strive to provide the best outcomes possible for our patient population.

Many medical providers do not like patients with addictions – they find them to be manipulative, demanding, lying, and often with secondary agendas. I find though that many of my patients have been treated poorly by the medical system – often shockingly so – and they don’t expect that we will treat them with respect or believe what they say anyway. I find these patients to be fascinating – I learn more about human behavior and frailties every day. By treating them with respect, asking questions without being judgmental, and allowing them to admit when they have made mistakes or tried to manipulate us, I can build lasting relationships with patients, even when we have to apply policies that can make their lives more difficult.

- Robert Sherrick, MD, FASAM, President NWSAM

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