H/t Johnny Johnston MD.
I don’t often read a Daily Beast article with which I totally agree, but this one struck a chord.
By the end of this year, it’s estimated that 300 physicians will commit suicide. While depression amongst physicians is not new—a few years back, it was named the second-most suicidal occupation—the level of sheer unhappiness amongst physicians is on the rise. [Not to mention the high incidence of alcoholism and drug addiction among physicians–admin]
Simply put, being a doctor has become a miserable and humiliating undertaking. Indeed, many doctors feel that America has declared war on physicians—and both physicians and patients are the losers.
I try not to be too negative about the profession, but the truth is I never encouraged my children to follow in Dad’s footsteps, and I am not disappointed that none of them did. Not all of us are radiologists or $21 million a year ophthalmologists (not to put down my “ology” friends; they made good career decisions). In my mind, the most important doctors in the front line of patient care are primary care physicians, the most poorly treated and most poorly paid in the profession.
My favorite line from the article: Given that primary care doctors do the work that no one else is willing to do, being a primary care physician is more like being a janitor—but without the social status or union protections.
It is no wonder that doctors are getting MBA’s so they can go into management, moving to a concierge practice model, or going all the way to a cash only practice. To cover overhead under the current system, primary care physicians must see more and more patients during their day, as well as dealing with insurance companies and other practice management problems, spending less and less time with their patients. The less time a doctor spends with his patient, the (justifiably) less satisfied the patient becomes, and now reimbursement is being tied to patient satisfaction. Ask your friendly emergency department physician about Press Ganey scores, and then cover your ears.
Okay, I have ranted long enough tonight, and thrown links all over the page. I am grateful to have a job doing something that I love, even if it didn’t work out like I expected 32 years ago. Take home message–have a little sympathy for your Mercedes (or Toyota) driving primary care doctor; his/her life may not be as ideal as you thought.
My friend and primary care physician, Thomas J. Bernard, MD. Thanks, Jeff