In the recent times Physician Dissatisfaction has become a potentially inflating issue. What was considered one of the most majestic and noble professions has been tarnished with discontent and frustration. Let us try and shed some light on the problems that a doctor faces and how a patient can help boost his doctor’s confidence.
When we think in retrospect about an important decision that we made, we think of all the factors that contributed towards making that decision.
When I think of my decision of choosing Medicine as a career, I distinctly remember my family playing a very important role in it. My Late Grandfather would tell me how it was one of the most respected and selfless professions. He would tell me stories about the humbler times when barbers would not charge money from their physician and people would invite their Doctor to their most intimate affairs, be it their daughter’s wedding or a funeral in the family.
My parents raised me while working 16-hour shifts at the hospital. My mother would take me with her to the hospital and while she operated, the nurses would pull a chair and a small table for me to do my homework. After I was done they would let me play with the light source of a discarded endoscope. Putting a paper with punched holes in front of the scope would light up the ceiling like the starry sky. After the shift my mum would take me for a small treat- be it a little toy or my favorite ice-cream.
My Dad who is an Orthopod would let me dunk the plaster roll in water and hand it to him. He would project as if I was doing the most important bit.
I grew up watching these professionals filled with energy and hope. Although two decades have passed since these happenings I am still filled with hope for this profession.
‘In order to understand somebody better you need to walk in his or her shoes and feel what they have felt’.
A Doctor’s journey begins way early in high school. He undergoes a series of stringent tests at every stage of training and has to come out with flying colors at every step in order to be licensed to heal a fellow human.
A typical day in Med School involves a stressed morning-round for breakfast, patient encounters and grand-rounds for lunch, scut work for tea and research projects and studying for dinner. They manage to scavenge free food strategically placed in the hospital to sustain their survival, as their mountain of debt doesn’t really allow them to have fancy meals everyday.
Once they get into residency they have already given almost a decade of their life to medicine, yet they are at the bottom of the food chain. Let’s be honest, how many of you would prefer to speak directly to the attending or prefer for the attending to do the procedure himself?
Then the doctor gets consumed in the rat race of getting into a subspecialty because the charm of primary care is seldom appreciated both in the medical and general community.
The first question that is asked of me when I mention my profession is “ What have you specialized in?” My most polite answers are- “ Let me finish my training first!” and “ I have yet to decide”. My not so polite answers are beyond the scope of this article. Here is a little snapshot of what pops up on Google when you search for Primary care on today’s date.
The first step towards solving a problem is acknowledging the problem. There is a growing dissatisfaction amongst the physicians and this is an established fact.
I believe that most of the issues are seeding out of a negative attitude towards the profession at large. Here is a snapshot of what Google suggests when you search for “Doctors are”. The results are hurting but not surprising.
I have spoken to many colleagues and have tried to find a common factor amongst all problems that they enumerated. One of them was that the community looked at them as “Commodities” rather than fellow human beings. Another factor was distrust amongst the people about their opinion, which very frequently the Doctors interpret as disrespect.
The Monetary Aspect
A common opinion about Doctors is that they make a lot of money and are in the profession for the sake of it. I would like to briefly discuss reimbursement with you in order to shed some light on a Doctor’s financial situation.
When you present to a clinic and get treated for a condition, the doctor merely takes your insurance details. He then proceeds to treat you and makes a bill for his services. This bill is forwarded to your insurance agency or payer and in 4-6 months the Doctor gets paid for the services that were approved by the payer. Frequently these payments are significantly less than the billed amount.
I will use a simile to explain this better – Imagine you go to your green grocer and take a load of vegetables and on your way out tell him that your payer will pay for the vegetables 4-6 months later at a rate that the payer feels is appropriate regardless for what effort were put in while keeping the vegetables fresh.
I can assure you that the green grocer will take the basket back and show you the door. When your doctor is making such sacrifices, he deserves to be treated with respect and should be cherished for being a part of your life.
Every year hundreds of practices are abandoned and shut down because the Doctors feel pressured to squeeze in more patients and work inhuman hours just to break even and survive. They feel obligated to move to areas with a low rate for malpractice insurance and less competition for practice. Their families are uprooted from their homes in the process.
Trust me, they deserve better for their services. If you are a victim of expensive medical care, your doctor suffers as much as you in the process.
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference” – Reinhold Niebuhr
The things that you can change as a patient, is your attitude towards your Doctor. Like any other human being he needs your appreciation and support.
Here is a prescription that you can give to your Doctor to soothe his pain-
Mutual respect and understanding between you and your Doctor will go a long way towards making your relation fruitful and worth cherishing.
Begin every meeting with your doctor by thanking him for making your life better and telling him how his treatment has helped you! Then you can go on to enlist your problems that persist.
The only thing that your Doctor demands of you is “Faith” in his devotion towards you!