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Fate of Medicine Today in Family Practice or Primary Care

February 23, 2015

The following is a sentence out of previous blog.

 

It is becoming harder and harder to find a primary care physician to care for you. These physicians have been called general practitioners, family practitioners, and medical practitioners.  All of these specialists are generalists. They care for the whole patient. In spite of taking responsibility for the care of the whole patient, they are among the lowest paid of all specialties in medicine. Why is this?

 

The reasons for the above are simple economics. A physician may finish his residency training today with several hundred thousand dollars of debt. If you like medicine in general why would you choose a residency like family practice if you know you are going to finish your residency heavily in debt and know you will be paid from the very bottom of the barrel when it comes to the health care dollars?  Wouldn’t you rather have the paycheck of the specialist who may make in an hour what you make in a day?

 

All of us like to think their physician chose their specialty because they were enamored with it and that they could really make a difference on this planet. They could do more than leave a large carbon footprint.

 

In actuality that is probably much less true today than it was in yesteryear. The position of the physician in our society today is certainly not that which it was in the past. We can no longer grab a handful of pride by calling ourselves doctors.  We are now simply a segment of society who decided to enter the healthcare field and hope we can ride on the laurels of the true physicians who lived before us.

 

We are no longer a country of physicians who make house calls and will see a cancer patient in their home just because we cannot bear to see that same patient sitting in our waiting room vomiting, in pain and in an emaciated condition from their cancer. Things have changed. Now we do things for our own comfort. We can make up hundreds of reasons to rationalize this change in behavior. “I can get lab and x-rays in my office or hospital.” That is true of course, but if a patient is on chemotherapy and receiving treatment at home for a known problem, is it really necessary to drag them to your office for treatment? But it sure beats driving to their home and caring for them based on their comfort, doesn’t it?

 

Oh well. Nothing stays the same. Medicine surely hasn’t. Our doctors who once ranked number one in the world now rank 37th. We rank behind every industrialized country in the world. Thank heavens we rank number one in charges and the cost of medical care. What a blessing we are not last in everything.

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