Sunday, April 6, 2008

Universal Coverage Law Creates Doctor Shortage


Shaheen Lakhan said...

Some argue that the physician shortage is partially due to the increased number of female doctors. They claim they have less longevity than their male counterparts, take more time off for maternity and family matters, and work less hours and take less overnight call.

Brain Blogger recently wrote about this issue. We would love to read your commentary. Thank you.


Kelso House AFC said...

I am not sure I am convinced that new younger doctors are "working less" than any doctors used to. I have a good friend who has recently finished medical school at Michigan State University, and is now a D.O.. During his internship, he routinely worked 100 hours a week, and did 24 hour days. Now that he is an official doctor, he is still working 60 hours per week, and is on call 24/7 for several days per week. He has a wife and three boys under 5 years of age. His is tired - and he is still young.

I have been a long time critic of this doctor stress-load. As a Patient, I have witnessed first-hand the results of tired doctors. I for one would much rather have a fresh, happy, smiling doctor, who is well-rested, gets to see his / her family and enjoy a good vacation once in a while. I do not feel comfortable placing my personal care in the hands of someone who may be stressed, tired, overworked, and possibly even resentful ! So, I say - more power to women and younger male doctors who may be taking control of their careers in this direction. I think it will ultimately be better for all of us this way.

And - perhaps that doctor shortage will start to take care of itself once people realize that doctors no longer have to live in this stressful way.

I'll give an example: when my friend was first considering becoming a physician, he spoke about his plans with long-time doctors. What many of them told him: you don't want to do this - are you crazy? Become a physician's assistant instead - you make good money and get a 40-hour workweek. You'll get to take vacations and see your family.

If this is the kind of advice that is coming straight from the horses' mouths, then is it really surprising when, combined with other factors, it is leading to a shortage of doctors?

To sum up - I'm glad younger doctors are starting to work less and place more importance upon the happiness of their own lives. I think this will make for saner, happier doctors, and better patient care.