It was personally gratifying to receive so many encouraging responses to yesterday’s April Fools post. What I find particularly interesting is that so many people actually thought that it could be real even though they knew full well that it was posted on the First of April. It is interesting because it wasn’t all that long ago, that a possible career change like this for a man my age would have been inconceivable or at the very least considered to be a form of insanity. The sad truth now, though, at least as far as Medicine is concerned, is that it isn’t inconceivable now and despite the prankish nature of the post and my current level of satisfaction with my main career, I can actually foresee the possibility of something like this – following a passion – happening with me in the not too distant future.
Medicine in the United States is in a very difficult situation with major flux. So far, few changes have actually improved the system with ever increasing dissatisfaction and ever decreasing reimbursement (not necessarily directly related) amongst physicians.
Few colleagues I know are actually encouraging their children to follow in their footsteps. I haven’t. Money aside, so many of the aspects that made Medicine such a great career choice have disappeared into the past or are rapidly doing so. There is too much paper or data pushing, not enough meaningful patient contact and way too much bureaucracy. The entire industry is becoming more and more adversarial.The health insurance industry is a nightmare on both member and provider sides, doctors are pitted against fellow doctors, against hospitals and even against patients and I have no faith that the government will actually improve things. The government is a big reason behind the growing adversarial nature of the industry, but there is plenty of blame to go around, including myself and my fellow physicians.
The idea of increased coverage of the population is a worthy one, but the actual reality is that more people who have had coverage are finding themselves with less and less thanks to the rise of high deductible plans. On top of that, the cost of a Medical Education, like higher education as a whole, only worse, has grown completely out of hand. It is not a good time to become a physician. I am entering the latter part of my career, hoping to continue through to a typical retirement. Whether that happens remains to be seen. It is nice to know, however, that my prank, as outlandish as it may have seemed to me, may not ultimately be so foolish.