Article: Doctors tell all– and it’s bad

I came across this article about what makes being a doctor such a challenge these days.

I know what you’re thinking… Hard to be a doctor, my ass. Initially, I thought I couldn’t feel bad for doctors in light of my dubious IF treatment over the past few years and the down right atrocious care my mother has received.

But this article is a great read because it helped  me understand the larger forces at play that make giving quality care difficult for medical professionals. Don’t get me wrong- I’m still deeply angry about my mother’s medical treatment. Still, it is interesting to see what the other side of the story is. Some quotes from the article:

On the patient-doctor relationship:

How patients feel about their medical interactions really does influence the efficacy of the care they receive, and doctors’ emotions about their work in turn influence the quality of the care they provide. Despite our virtuosic surgical capacities, our cutting-edge technology, and our pharmaceutical advances, the patient-doctor relationship is still the heart of medicine. And it has eroded terribly.

On attitudes doctors have toward their profession and morale:

According to a 2012 survey, nearly eight out of 10 physicians are “somewhat pessimistic or very pessimistic about the future of the medical profession.”[…] In 2008, only 6 percent “described their morale as positive.” Doctors today are more likely to kill themselves than are members of any other professional group.

And this one particularly speaks to me…

Without being fully aware of it, what I really wanted all along was a doctor trained in a different system, who understood that a conversation was as important as a prescription; a doctor to whom healing mattered as much as state-of-the-art surgery did.

I like to think that people who become doctors want to care for people, but at some point a line is crossed. Patients are treated like pieces in an assembly line and doctors are cogs in that machine. It’s in the name of efficency, but comes at the cost of real care.

If you’ve ever felt like you had to fight to get the kind of treatment you need, you should definitely check this out.

Doctors Tell All– And It’s Bad, by Meghan O’Rourke



  1. Oh, I could tell you some stories, but I think there is a limit on comments here! Being married to a surgeon though, well, it’s a hard job. When I say he works almost 24/7, I’m not lying. My husband was off this past weekend, meaning not on call, but that certainly doesn’t mean off. He’s never off. Off for him was working 9 hours on Saturday and 13 on Sunday, easier than the hours when he’s on though I suppose. I assume the non-surgical areas have to have it better, but I don’t know. My husband is beat up constantly at work, there is never enough time, no time to even pee during a 10 hour surgery, no lunches, no breaks. TV shows doctors golfing, ha, my husband doesn’t have time to sleep much less golf! I think my point here is that he means well, he’s a good doctor, but I’m not sure that always comes across to his patients. He is busy, and sometimes that means being short in a clinic visit to get to a surgery. He wants the best for all patients, but he is only one person, stretched way too thin. And more and more insurance companies are telling him how to care for his patients… I could go on for ever, so I better stop here, good article though, thanks for sharing!

    • thecommonostrich · October 20, 2014

      Exactly. I honestly think most doctors want to provide quality care to their patients. (There are a few who are a-holes, but that happens everywhere.)

      Recently, my RE told me that their administrators moved primary testing to a new lab without consulting the clinicians. This new lab is cheaper, but doesn’t do all the tests that their previous one did. So what happens? I had to get another set of tests because our results weren’t complete, which meant our treatment was delayed another month, I had another visit to the office, and even more blood drawn.

      I too could go on about this forever… There is a manic need to drive down cost and increase efficiency at scale. Conceptually, I get that. But not when it comes at the expense of actual care to actual humans. #rantover

      • Yeah… Somewhere it all went wrong on cutting costs and cutting care. I wish I had a great solution to all this…

      • Oh, and don’t even get me started on the crappy doctors out there! I honestly think they should post board scores. Even the worst guy/gal in the class is still a doctor, and most people have no way of knowing who is good and who isn’t. My husband could tell you awful stories about crappy residents, but yet they are just pushed along in the system, and will be out practicing some day. Very sad.

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