The Medical Profession on a Downward Spiral?

Opinion2.jpgI recently read an interesting editorial from the NY Times regarding the professions of law and medicine and how they continue to lack the luster that they used to have. It’s sad but true. Medicine just is not what it used to be. Although the profession is not hurting for aspiring young physicians, application numbers have waxed and waned but have not steadily increased. Meanwhile, the satisfaction of those in the medical profession continues to steadily decline.

Physicians self report that they are not as happy as they used to be, that the business of medicine is running them ragged, and that the managed care environment of medicine has turned them into “providers” – just another technician in the cogwheel of managed health care.

I can vouch for the sentiment that it seems like youth today aspire more for independence and entrepreneurial pursuits because they want autonomy, because they believe they can make more change in people’s lives through the internet and technology, and because they believe they can make more money.

It is true that physicians continue to make a solid income, but that income steadily increases in a predictable manner over decades. The average physician will make between 100 to 300k, overperformers in the 500 to 750k range, and superstars over 1 million. In contrast, attorneys who make partners will make into the millions. Entrepreneurs who are successful will make into the millions. Executives at the highest levels will make into the millions.

Morale continues to decline as well. Walking around the hospital these days, it seems that even the younger physicians don’t look as happy to be working in the hospital.

The care of patients continues to be a satisfying endeavor for most physicians. For those who are not satisfied, most leave the profession.

However, I encourage you to ask the young people around you what they want to be when they grow up – Bill Gates? the founders of Google? a lawyer? a doctor?


Dr. JC is a medical doctor who has a passion for health promotion and education.
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