Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Check out Dr. Rangel's blog...

...for an account of a Scottish gentleman's struggle to have a 3 inch nail removed from his hand, navigating the national health system in Great Britain. It reminds me of my adventure with conjunctivitis in London, years ago. The hotel sent me to the Royal Eye Infirmary, a massive Victorian edifice, where I was given a number and directed to wait. And wait...
A stream of eye traumas hurtled to the front of the line. I learned not to ask, "how much longer?" After 12 hours, I was escorted to the slit lamp, and in less than 15 seconds, I had received a free eye exam, a free diagnosis, and free eye drops. (All for a non-citizen.) When the doctor found out that I was a med student, she called after me, "It's not too late to change your mind!" She had seen hundreds of eyes that day. She seemed chained to her equipment.
Are Americans prepared for that kind of care? Patients want more time with us, not less, and they want to see us sooner, not later. They already feel like they are on an assembly line. And do American doctors want to provide that kind of care? At least here in Eugene, doctors are feeling overburdened and undervalued. There is a potent comment following Dr. Rangel's post, about disparities in health care in America, and of course that is all true. But one would do well to think about the issues that Dr. Rangel raises....
Except for one thing. He says that in our system, increased work means increased rewards. But I know lots of doctors who are working harder, seeing more patients, but their income is declining....

2 Comments:

Blogger Dave Schuler said...

That's the situation that most of the American people have been in for quite a while now. Working harder. Income stagnating. For most people one of the reasons for this has been the substantial increase in the cost of the benefits they're receiving (Total compensation = Income + Benefits). And the benefit whose cost is rising the fastest is health care.

I number quite a few docs among my friends and acquaintances. Not a happy one in the bunch. Maybe it's income. Maybe there are other things beside income that contribute to job satisfaction.

Keep writing! Your blog is a near-daily visit for me.

9:03 AM  
Blogger shrinkette said...

Dear Mr. Schuler,

Thanks for the kind words! You made my day.

5:36 PM  

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