Saturday, July 01, 2006

Attempts at Disillusioning

Today, I was shadowing Podiatrist and everything went pretty well. I'm very comfortable around him and I'm becoming almost useful. After working with him a couple of times I've realized that the money that he makes is very important to him. At least I assume that because of how much he complains about insurance companies paying less and less for what he does. Okay, that's fine. He's feeling underappreciated and isn't getting out of his job what he thought he would be. Whatever, those are his priorities and things aren't going perfectly.

Deep down I wonder how bad could it really be when you're driving a Mercedes, taking your 10 and 7 year old to Disney/Universal Studios for the 18th time, (No exaggerating. That's the number he told me.) and going out to lunch with your wife to Cheesecake Factory where he predicts to spend about $100 dollars. And those trips to Florida he told me use to cost him about $3600 and now cost in total about $4000. All I know is that if I was living that kind of lifestyle I would be extremely happy with where I was. Now I'm not trying to deny that money is important to me because let's be honest we work for a reason. But the reason I'm choosing medicine is because it's the area that I can enjoy the most while still making a living.

The last patient of the day comes in with her husband who happens to be a Family Medicine physician. FM gives me a weird look and then asks if I was a resident. (I was beyond honored) I then told him that I was pre-med and the first thing he tells me is, "Don't do it." At first I gave a smile cause often doctors will say that kiddingly. But it didn't stop there. Podatrist and FM start venting to each other about stupid patients, liability and insurance companies. (By this point in the day if I hear one more thing about insurance companies I'm going to hit someone.) FM then gives me a scenario that he's currently in and asks how I would handle it. I give my naive premedical student answer that the best you can do is tell your patient all their options and how serious the situation is. He then goes on about how that's how it should be, but isn't what reality is. Now I'm perfectly aware of this and know that you need to watch your back more than that, but I can't honestly make a real decision without some experience under my belt. So after he says, "Don't do it," for about the 5th time I ask him if he's actually serious, because I get the sense that he's not just kidding around anymore. He gave me a straightforward yes, but gives the routine “But if the money’s not important/If it’s what you really like…” support. Podiatrist has told me from day one that if I do end up in medicine I should only consider plastic surgery, cosmetic dentistry and ER because those are the ones that don't have to deal with insurance companies. ER is the only one of those I would ever consider, but as of now I can’t see it being my number one choice.

AHHHHHH!!!! What is the deal with these jerkoffs. I don't want to be an asshole and just say to them, "I'm not in it for the money," because then it'll sound like I think they're shallow. I really don't think that of them. I just think that they probably should have chosen a better profession to make big bucks. Next time I see Podiatrist I'm going to man up and ask him how he chose his profession. I'm also going to ask Ortho. what he thinks about his career. I'm going to try not to give up Podiatrist, but I have a feeling that everyone knows how he feels about his job.

I'd also like to get it out there that I realize like I sound way too idealistic about the medical profession. I claim to be immune to the aggravation of "the system," but I know that I will become a little jaded by it all. I expect and accept this. But I still believe that as long as I go into something that I like then that will get me through life. Oh yeah, and I also am not going to be complaining if I make the physician average of $150,000.


Kungfukitten said...

Basically, you're going to be working with idiots no matter what field you go into. It's important that you do something you love, where you can continue to learn and grow, and there's nothing wrong with making some decent money. Making money is also relative, the podiatrist bitching about his income is either comparing himself to his peers or his income is slowly declining instead of increasing. He doesn't remember what's it like being a student, shopping at thrift stores and eating ramen.

Sid Schwab said...

I think it's fair to say that virtually no one initially went into medicine "for the money." But I can relate, to a degree, to what those guys were implying: reimbursement issues, insurance issues have become such a dominant theme in the practice of medicine that it's hard to retain one's initial purity of purpose. And I think that you'll find such talk is more likely to come from docs "of a certain age," who have practiced through the transition times from the gooder old days to now. There's a certain irony that the system has turned us into what we never wanted to be: worker-bees who must constantly think about the bottom line. On the other hand, entering into it now gives you a certain advantage. You'll not have known what it once was. Which is good, because it ain't going back.