I say “Thank you” a lot to patients. And I mean it.

I like being a doctor. It’s something I always wanted to do. For all the difficulties that go along with it, I still enjoy the actual job of caring for those who come to me. They’re the reason I’m here, and they keep my practice afloat and let me do what I want in life.

Like any other business, I have competitors. In my area, people have a choice of neurologists, and I appreciate that they picked me. So I always try to thank them when walking up to checkout.

A big part of what makes the job rewarding are those who feel the same way about me. It’s always nice when they thank me for helping, or trying to help, or just listening. I try to be a good doctor, so I’m glad to have someone recognize that. In this field, you can’t make everyone happy, but if I can have a solid majority who understand that I’m doing my best for them, I’ll take it.

I’m not fishing for compliments, or gifts, or a parade. Experience has taught me that patients who are overly flattering are most likely not to mean it. If someone calls me too many wonderful things, I immediately worry about their ulterior motives. Are they looking for narcotics? Disability? A legal action?

But a simple, sincere, “Thank you” from a patient can make it all worthwhile. Even on a bad day, it’s still a bright spot. It’s nice to know I’m making a difference. When I get a small note or appreciative Christmas card from a patient, I save it. They go in a drawer to be taken out and read after a particularly rough time, to remind myself that I must be doing something right.

Being appreciated reminds me why I’m here, and that this was the right choice for me. It lets me know that I’m doing what I set out to do many years ago: to help people.

Dr. Block has a solo neurology practice in Scottsdale, Ariz.