Is this a good time to be a physician? Absolutely! In fact, I believe there has never been a better time to practice medicine. I hold this belief despite the barrage of negative comments and predictions from doomsayers remarking on the sorry state of health care in its current state.
Before I tell you why I’m so optimistic, I’d like to acknowledge one fact: practicing medicine is more complex and difficult than ever, however, this fact doesn’t dampen my enthusiasm. There is no doubt that over the past two decades a great many changes in the health care environment have consumed doctors’ time, distracted us from our core task of providing care, and impacted our incomes.
Meanwhile, patients’ expectations of the health care industry and of their physicians are changing. An increasing number of people want more involvement in their own health care and want to partner with their physician. So it is not hard to understand how practicing medicine can feel more challenging than ever.
For example: results from a national survey reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2012 indicated that US physicians suffer from more burnout than other American workers.
Burnout, in this report, was defined by “loss of enthusiasm for work, feelings of cynicism, and a low sense of personal accomplishment”; 45.8% of responding physicians had at least 1 of these symptoms.
So why am I so optimistic?
Because when I read these survey results, and others like them, bureaucracy and complexity are often cited as the reasons why physicians are unhappy. Not patient care.
While these factors (bureaucracy and complexity) can momentarily take physicians away from their passion of practicing medicine, it is the passion of a physician, precisely, that fuels my optimism for the state of health care today.