It's worse to be a chemist--and other responses to unhappy physicians

Yesterday’s post, trying to reconcile heartfelt physician concerns about the evolving practice of medicine with data suggesting more students than ever are pursuing medicine as a career, clearly touched  a nerve,  drawing  a range of thoughtful responses, many from Twitter.

I was encouraged by the number of doctors who wrote that on balance, everything is (still) (pretty) awesome.   It was especially heartening to hear this view from front-line physicians, like my former colleague Jamie Beckerman (“As a front-liner myself, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I love it every day.”) and UCSF internist and researcher Urmimala Sarkar, “There IS something special and unique about medicine. Lucky and grateful in #primarycare!”

Some academic and policy-oriented physicians, such as Ashish Jha and Aaron Carroll, were if anything, more emphatic.  Their basic perspective: physicians have it really good and should stop whining.

On the other hand, some thoughtful critics noted that many of those most enthusiastic about medicine aren’t doing it all of the time.  Perhaps these “part-time” docs (or worse, folks like me who are now non-practicing docs) can idealize and glorify medical practice precisely because they’re not in the trenches, fighting the battles every day.  (I’d like to think I’m reasonably attuned to current concerns – see herehere.)

Some critics also suggested that prospective med students and young trainees may not really know what they’re getting into (“Applicants don’t know any better,” one respondent grumbled) – or might not hear the advice they receive.  “Every Dr I know says they wouldn’t do it over again but they ignored the same advice as students,” tweets biologist Ken Fortino .  Moreover, as VC and physician Justin Klein points out, “It’s hard to appreciate the nature of the job until you do it.”

The always-thoughtful (and fellow Forbes physician contributor) Ford Vox (see this recent gem) pointed out that physician satisifaction may depend a lot on where you’re working – and of course he’s right.  My current PCP, at One Medical Groupseems far less harried than my previous PCP, and tells me that a key reason she joined One Medical was precisely for the opportunity to practice medicine in a fashion that’s less rushed and closer to her original ideal.  The opportunity for a more fulfilling practice is a draw not only for traditional concierge practices (or concierge-light practices like One Medical), but also for innovative primary care practices such as Rushika Fernandopulle’sIora Health.  While happier physicians are likely to result in more satisfied patients, this may not inevitably translate into improved outcomes (a disconnect this recent Onion story wryly observes).

The need for perspective was suggested by UCSF physician-scientist Ethan Weiss: “I think being a doctor is still great. It is being a scientist I am worried about,” and even more poignantly by former industry chemist John Tucker: “The bloodbath among my peers in recent years has probably made me excessively intolerant of the complaining.”  As VC Nimesh Shah nicelysummarizes, “versus the avg working American it’s still a well paying job with exceptionally low unemployment.”

Perhaps my favorite response was from AliveCor founder and cardiologist (and my 2013 Digital Health Entrepreneur Of The Year) Dave Albert, who notes that his wife “works 4 proto-ACO, gripes about Epic & loves being a doctor” and“our MS2 [second-year medical student] son heard all the horror stories. Picked medicine (probably IM[internal medicine]) over Investment Banking.”

Perhaps there’s hope for medicine’s future after all.

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

David
Shaywitz

What's new on AEI

AEI Election Watch 2014: What will happen and why it matters
image A nation divided by marriage
image Teaching reform
image Socialist party pushing $20 minimum wage defends $13-an-hour job listing
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 27
    MON
  • 28
    TUE
  • 29
    WED
  • 30
    THU
  • 31
    FRI
Monday, October 27, 2014 | 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
State income taxes and the Supreme Court: Maryland Comptroller v. Wynne

Please join AEI for a panel discussion exploring these and other questions about this crucial case.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014 | 9:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
For richer, for poorer: How family structures economic success in America

Join Lerman, Wilcox, and a group of distinguished scholars and commentators for the release of Lerman and Wilcox’s report, which examines the relationships among and policy implications of marriage, family structure, and economic success in America.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014 | 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
The 7 deadly virtues: 18 conservative writers on why the virtuous life is funny as hell

Please join AEI for a book forum moderated by Last and featuring five of these leading conservative voices. By the time the forum is over, attendees may be on their way to discovering an entirely different — and better — moral universe.

Thursday, October 30, 2014 | 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
A nuclear deal with Iran? Weighing the possibilities

Join us, as experts discuss their predictions for whether the United States will strike a nuclear deal with Iran ahead of the November 24 deadline, and the repercussions of the possible outcomes.

Thursday, October 30, 2014 | 5:00 p.m. – 6:15 p.m.
The forgotten depression — 1921: The crash that cured itself

Please join Author James Grant and AEI senior economists for a discussion about Grant's book, "The Forgotten Depression: 1921: The Crash That Cured Itself" (Simon & Schuster, 2014).

No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled today.
No events scheduled this day.