Engaging in an economic conversation about the conventional compensation of a physician leads one to believe that doctors are well to do. In the minds of most citizens, school-tuition board members, and even local neighbors, if you’re a physician the presumption is that you are economically prosperous, maybe even rich. This sociological assumption probably sounds false to most whom honorably don the white coat. Perhaps a decade or two ago, when medical school tuition was less and compensation was relatively higher, this adage would be true. But in 2018, when medical school debt can easily set one back $350,000 (before interest rates), this is false.
Attend any biotech or health informatics conference and one thing becomes clear: the scarcity of physicians. Entrepreneurs, businessmen, angel investors, and software engineers swarm these conferences - and their encompassing companies- all the while the imperative persona in this realm remains tied up behind a dysfunctional EHR or in an overbooked operating room. Why?
“I’ve done this thousands of times, if you do not intubate him he will die quickly. I’m a pro, but I don’t have all night: either decide to let me do my job or he dies. But remember, he could die while I do the procedure as well.” These were the words that echoed around a group of 5 siblings, a spouse, and 10 grandchildren, lost in the chaos of an abruptly ill grandfather. The children had medical questions, the spouse legitimate concerns, and all the resident could do was spill his ago and rigid agenda onto the scene. Each 10 minutes he would intrude on a sensitive family conversation with a blunt statement, “it’s getting late, I’ve done this 1,000 times, if you don’t do it he will die, but if I do it he may day also, it’s a grim scenario.” He then went back to laughing as he scrolled through his twitter feed, literally. Initially, I figured he was perhaps in his 4th year of residency, had proficient expertise, and was just ill-trained at proper bedside manner. Working in the healthcare field and having witnessed this scenario 100 times over, I pulled him aside to remind him: these people are in shock, have some sensitivity or get another resident on the case. He barked back with indignation. Within 5 minutes, I had looked up his credentials and experience: he was a PGY-1, and surely did not perform this procedure more than 200 times; he graduated medical school 15 months prior. I swiftly reminded him that his lies, attitude, and careless outlook do not suite an efficient physician. He exploded.
Working in biotech and healthcare analytics, I happen to know his boss’s boss, and began contemplating giving him a call about his rogue resident. I pondered, observed, and sat in introspection. My distaste for him as a physician evolved into mercy, as I became mindful of what this young man had endured, and probably goes through on a daily basis. My envisaged phone call to his boss’s boss changed from a complaint against this resident to a direct complain against one thing: the medical education system.
The incorporation of novel medical interventions plays a critical role in the evolution of medicine. Technological advancements in the healthcare industry are not only catalyzing physicians to treat their patients differently, but more importantly, it is generating a paradigm shift in how physicians think.
The deeper we probe, the more we realize we do not know. Brain disease remains elusive, the sources of cancer are still a mystery, and better cures for cardiac dysfunction are undiscovered. Our understanding of how genetics truly impacts various disease states is akin to how quantum mechanics controls subatomic particles: we simply do not fully grasp the depths of medicine.
Yet, this is a source of inspiration, pushing the biomedical community to work in unison to usher in the next generation of clinical interventions that can treat and cure the patients of tomorrow. We are not intimated by what we don't know, but rather energetically curious to learn what we ought to know. We do not fear the medical landscape which remains undiscovered, but rather build trails of certainty through collaborative scientific exploration.
This blog is merely the thoughts and observations of Ayden Jacob on varying medical topics.