The Joy Has Been Sucked Out Of Medicine

It has happened to all of us. We make an appointment to see our physician. We have a headache and a stuffy nose. We make a mental list of all we would like to discuss with our doctor; the latest tummy troubles and the spot on your hand that is concerning. Your family history has changed as your dad was diagnosed with diabetes and your mom with cancer. So much to discuss with your practitioner!

Then, before you know it, you have been in and out of the office without having a chance to sit down and discuss your health concerns or address every possible self-diagnosis you found on WebMD. You feel scorned. You see your doctor making out like a bandit when you, along with most Americans, haven’t received a raise in decades.

That is just not the case. Unfortunately, things are only getting worse for most doctors, especially those who still accept health insurance. Just processing the insurance forms costs an average of $58 for every patient encounter. To make ends meet, physicians have had to increase the number of patients they see. Sadly, the result is that the average face-to-face clinic visit lasts about 12 minutes.

It’s hard for anyone outside the profession to understand just how rotten the job has become and what bad news that is for America’s health care system. Maybe that’s why economic expert and author Malcolm Gladwell recently implied that to fix the healthcare crisis; the public needs to recognize what it’s like to be a physician. Imagine, for things to get better for patients, they need to empathize with physicians. That may be a lot to ask in our unpleasant and un-empathetic times.

Simply put, being a doctor for many 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.

Next time you’re waiting for an hour to see the doctor, consider the personal care another sick patient is receiving. Consider the fact that your doctor CHOSE a profession to help others, and appreciate the amount of school, amount of student debt, and amount of time they dedicate to help others. Let the joy of helping others abound in what otherwise is a messy economic situation. It will take physicians and patients together to bring the joy back into medicine.