Work That Matters

Anesthesiologist and Patient Father

Anesthesiologist Michael Mulick talks about how being a father of a patient has changed the way he connects with parents.

I’ve taken care of thousands of children at CHLA, and I’m always meeting with the family and having them say goodbye to their child, and then we separate at that doorway to the operating room, and they leave their child with me.”

But to hand my child over, even though I knew these people, was very hard to do. And then we walked down the hallway. A thousand times I had sent families down that hallway—thousands of times, where we’re at the doorway and I say, ‘I’ll take good care of your child.’ I’ve always tried to practice empathy, but you don’t really know the extent of the concern a parent has until you are in that situation yourself. You almost don’t know what to do. It’s an overwhelming feeling.”

It’s definitely changed me. I’m able to connect with parents in a completely different way. It’s funny. A couple of weeks after my son had surgery—and he’s doing fine now, by the way—I wound up spending some time with this family, and I was about to take their child to surgery and I made myself much more available. I could really feel their pain. I could really feel what it was like to be in their shoes. I almost started crying. Then the dad put his hand on my shoulder. I can’t ever remember something like that happening before I sent my own child down that hall.”

— Michael Mulick, DO, anesthesiologist, patient father

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