In my last blog I talked about what young physicians face today when they finish their training. My thoughts were: Can young doctors going into medicine start a practice on their own today? From talking to young professionals, I sincerely doubt it. They have constraints of time and money and are often burdened with tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt.
Times have changed. When you showed up at a bank in 1968 and asked for a loan, there were no problems getting one. The banks were quick to loan money to you based on your medical degree. I don’t think that is true anymore. How does a young doctor today without a track record borrow half a million dollars to start a practice and pay for malpractice insurance? Tough, if not impossible. The alternative is the young doctors are faced with working for large corporations and are simply a face and a number. They will dress the part, act the part and produce the required numbers or they are simply one more statistic; they are gone. The bean counters don’t know them personally. Why should they care!
I have talked with numerous young physicians about their practice of medicine when they finish their training. One young doctor from JPS, our large charity hospital in Fort Worth, Texas probably said it best. He replied, “The doctors of today will never be able to practice medicine the way you old guys did.” I thought I looked young but, oh well. He said they are taught today how to order batteries of tests rather than how to diagnose a patient’s problems – just order tests and some of them should tell you what is wrong with the patient.
What a change this is from when I was their age. We usually listened to an exhaustive history from the patient, did a complete physical exam, made the diagnosis and then if necessary did tests to confirm our impression. Quite different from now.
I was seen in a University of Minnesota Hospital one day with severe chest pain. They did an EKG and echocardiogram on me and said they looked okay. The physician who ordered the tests did not even take the time to listen to my chest or heart. What an imbecile. I am leaving the physician’s name out of this. Unfortunately, they are from my home state, not Texas, and were a huge embarrassment to me. Needless to say, I did not pay the bill and when the university business office contacted me and were informed of this, I never received another bill.
Here are what my observations of todays practice of medicine lead me to express to people wanting to find a physician. I let people know that when I look for a physician today, I make sure the physician is a middle aged to older physician. If that is not possible, I make sure the physician is an Indian or an Asian physician. The reason is that these people are still being taught the art of medicine. Our young physicians are not. When I asked a young Pakistani physician what she thought of American doctors, she smiled at me, then chuckled a little before laughing out loud. She then asked me, “What American doctors? You have none.”
Isn’t it sad that some foreign physicians view American physicians in this way? That doctor also said people such as her who practice medicine the correct way are told by their employers to quit doing so. They are told to order tests. They are told it is not advantageous to go the extra mile on examination when they can simply order more diagnostic tests and be on their way to the next patient. There are scads more tests to be ordered.
Stay tuned to Dr. Rick, the Maverick Doctor. Let’s help our new president Address the Mess