Dr. Sandeep Jauhar wrote an essay in the New York Times recently that really captures the emotion of what's currently happening in medicine.
Doctors feel disillusioned and overwhelmed by forces that are shifting the focus of medicine away from patient care to commercialism. Everything is now about reimbursement and cost containment. The idea of patient care is being lost in a sea of paperwork, frantic attempts at efficiency, and red tape.
Most doctors aren't business people-- they're physicians first and only-- and this cultural shift is causing many of them to rethink their career choices. The change has already driven some completely out of medicine, and I am concerned many more will soon follow.
Dr. Jauhar writes,
"Among my colleagues I sense an emotional emptiness created by the relentless consideration of money. Most doctors went into medicine for intellectual stimulation or the desire to develop relationships with patients, not to maximize income. There is a palpable sense of grieving. We strove for so long, made so many sacrifices, and for what? In the end, for many, the job has become only that — a job."
What is being lost today is the idea that medicine is a career that is honorable and unique. There is a sacredness to the patient-doctor relationship that is being driven out by business concerns. When this sacredness is gone-- and it is almost gone already-- there will be those who will benefit, but physicians and patients will be the ones left hurting, and the ones expected to pick up the pieces that are left.