Despite Top-Notch Physicians, Medical Field Showing Signs of Illness
Massey, Patrick B., Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Patrick B. Massey, M.D.
Although I believe in nontraditional medicine, I am also a strong supporter of traditional Western medicine. We have the greatest medical system in the world; it needs work, but it is a lot better than anything else out there. Unfortunately, I also believe that it is dying.
Long after their friends graduate college and begin their lives, physicians are just beginning their training. It takes four years of college and four years of medical school to become a physician. Then at least three years of training under supervision, called a residency, is required before a doctors can practice medicine. Some residencies can take as long as seven years. That adds up to 11 to 15 years of education beyond high school!
During residency, it is not unusual to work 80 to 100 hours a week at the rate of about $6 an hour. In private practice, most physicians still work 80-hour weeks - more than most physicians in Canada and Europe.
In the past, there was adequate compensation for primary care physicians. (Family practice, internal medicine and pediatrics are considered primary care.) The money was OK, but not great (many primary care physicians make less per hour than a good car mechanic). But the greatest satisfaction came from being involved in people's lives.
Sadly, that has changed. Primary care physicians are leaving medicine, and fewer physicians are taking their place. As an example, one of my friends - a very good and well-respected internist - loves being a doctor. However, he cannot wait to leave medicine.
He works about 100 hours a week, but has not been able to pay himself since January. Over the past 18 months, his malpractice insurance premiums have increased more than 200 percent and will go up again by March. He is not alone. …