There Just Plain Aren't Enough Doctors
Over the last few years, the number of active physicians has declined, while the number of old-ass people in need of doctorin' keeps right on rising. That leaves the rest of us under a lot of pressure. We have to fit more patients into less time, so we can spend that saved time charting, of course. This leads to cutting corners, and the extremely dubious ethics of operating on multiple people at once.
Dutko/iStockBut not filling out two charts at once; let's not get crazy.
Remember that doctor United Airlines drop-kicked right off a flight? I can't speak to him as a professional (he sounds pretty shady), but his claim that he couldn't afford to miss appointments with his patients is pretty darn legitimate. If I was forced to delay a flight by a day, that could mean 25 people who need to reschedule after waiting three months just to talk with me. It's even worse if I have surgery that day. There is no more expensive real estate in any city than an operating room. It's about $6k an hour. Even San Francisco looks sane in comparison.
There Are About To Be Even Fewer Doctors
As a pediatric neurosurgeon, I rarely get called in to deliver good news. I may have to tell a parent about their child's horrible injury, or devastating brain tumor. And then there are the days I run across the worst of humanity: I've seen people torture their elderly parents to keep getting disability checks. I've seen a mom inject her own feces into her child to try to keep him sick (Munchausen syndrome by proxy). I don't know how you stay chipper after that.
Sasha_Suzi/iStockIn case you were ever planning to feel happiness again, yes: That really is a thing.
Medical students experience less depression than their peers. Before their internships, only 3.9% of medical students suffer from depression. And yet one year after their internship, that number jumps to 25.7%. The stifling bureaucracy, crazy liability, and crap work-life balance quickly leads to burnout. Although doctors becoming killers, abusers, rapists, and raging drug addicts are outlier cases, physician suicide is nothing short of an epidemic.
The suicide rate of male physicians is three times that of the general population. For women in medicine, the risk is four to five times higher than their non-physician peers. This is an important issue to me, because I've personally been touched by a friend in medicine ending his own life. This guy was successful, tall, and good looking, with three beautiful kids. He was known throughout the country in his field, got what seemed like a promotion, and ... something must not have worked out. He killed himself. None of us will ever know why. But I bet most doctors have a similar story.
And all that suicide, all that depression, all those early retirements? They mean America is looking at a projected shortfall of up to 90,000 doctors by 2025.
laflor/iStockGood luck with that.
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Note: this article has been edited to correct commentary on a study about depression among medical students, and medical interns.