Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Bitter Doc Face

Sometimes people seem to wonder what’s wrong with healthcare professionals. Why do we complain and gripe so much? Aren’t we still considered one of the most respected, well-paid professions out there? What could possibly be so wrong with medical school and residency that causes people to become such inhumane asses who focus a lot of their attention away from their patients?

Well I think, at least what I've seen thus far, it that it's really a few things: 1) huge debt to income load; 2) increasingly diminishing returns with an increasing CYA workload; 3) administrators and insurers who know nothing about medicine, but dictate policy and procedure regardless.

Personally a lot of my own bitterness these last couple years has come from the unforeseen future for something I've fought hard and sacrificed for. Medicine is on shaky grounds right now and I’m not sure where it will be in 10-20 years. What I envision, when looking at the current state, is a system where no one thinks anymore and all decisions are run through an administrative system - but the culpability remains squarely on the heavily burdened shoulders of the "white coat" - and malpractice reform is defunct.

The concerns of this generation of doctors are completely different from any other – which may be part of the rift between the old and new. It's very hard to dedicate oneself entirely to the practice of medicine when so much of it seems to be a time and money sink. The idea that one might not be able to afford to practice after 12 years or more of school and training is depressing. The thought of being “insecure” within your profession – beyond financially – causes a lot of grief and anxiety in residents and medical students. Simply looking at the state of primary care medicine is evidence enough that monetary concerns (i.e. being able to pay off your loans and still be able to feed your family) is a huge consideration when considering specialities.

The fact that patients continue to want perfection without paying for services; who, in the same instant, will run to the nearest phone book, ambulance-chaser for any complications (regardless if explained to the Nth degree or not), who, by virtue of their bottom-feeding existence, will then stop at nothing to destroy a career obtained through blood, sweat, and tears - all in the name of “justice” - leaves many docs and students wondering why in the hell they’re still around.

It’s a stark contrast to the dreams held during the early years of my medical training – polar opposites almost. If we, as a nation, want our health care to survive and not become a government run entity with bitter, angry providers who want nothing else but to leave when 5pm rolls around, we’d better realize that there’s only so much hemorrhaging that can occur before someone dies.

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