Saving the Medical Profession

The following email string from earlier today from physician leaders is very telling and tragic.  The email discussion starts with this:

Many of you will recognize some of the themes in this piece written by a frustrated young physician who has made the tough decision to leave her practice. Some of you might have struggled with the same issues discussed in this essay.

Here are two quotes from her thoughtful essay:

“The phenomenon of patients as customers, the cultural rise of entitled incivility, and trusting Dr. Google more than their doctor has eroded some of the pleasure of patient care.”

“In the past decade, physician groups have been purchased by hospitals and conglomerations. Rather than being recognized for individual excellence by patients voting with their feet, this has resulted in doctors being interchangeable cogs in a system where patients/hour and shifts/month dictate value.”

[go here, to read the article]

Two physicians responded with the following:

As physicians, WE make the wheel go around. Yet we have allowed our knowledge, our expertise, and our unmatched dedication to be devalued by hospitals, insurance companies, politicians, etc.

I think that the more we are called providers and we do not educate the public about the time commitment and education that physicians put in to become the master of the profession then we lose. … medical students are very talented. We need to make this news because we are the only ones who can provide quality care and provide the impetus to decrease costs We are the only ones equipped to do so. The MD degree has tons of value and it is not an interchangeable cog in the wheel.

I responded:

So true.  My law practice focuses on representing physicians, which includes helping them evaluate and participate in opportunities as they deal with the onslaught of onerous laws, rules, and regulations. I constantly must remind my clients that physicians are and remain the sole source of value in healthcare. Notwithstanding that, many physicians, young and old, constantly ignore good opportunities for their practices because they are intimidated into choosing the wrong ones.

As the public member on the Board of Governors of the Florida Medical Association, I am pleased at the FMA’s focus (1) on lobbying legislators who are notoriously ignorant about physicians and the practice of medicine, and (2) on educating its members so that they can better understand and evaluate what is going on in the business of medicine.

I worry whether we can make a big enough impact quickly enough.

No other profession is faced with less respect or more demands or higher expectations than allopathic and osteopathic physicians.

This is not about “socialized” medicine, Obamacare, or anything other than  economics.  It has always been about the money.  We are happy to make physicians work harder for less, and that has been happening for years.  People don’t care because they have drunk the Kool-Aid from the insurance companies and the government that the  medical profession is the problem with healthcare, and a misinformed public accepts the view that somehow physicians are the enemy.

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