Why Doctors Are Sick of Their Profession is an article that ran recently in the Wall Street Journal. It’s a sobering look at the human side of the current dysfunction we call healthcare.
The article’s author Sandeep Jauhar MD makes the point that he and many of his physician colleagues are ‘struggling with the loss of their professional values’. He suggests that in many ways he has become the doctor he never thought he would be: impatient, occasionally indifferent, at times dismissive or paternalistic. Whether he’s being too hard on himself, I don’t pretend to know.
The causes for the trend are varied and, in many cases, deeply rooted within an industry in need of reform. In many ways the system has beaten down the doctors—imparting cynicism in place of their once noble aspirations.
The doctors are largely part of a system they can’t beat and many don’t want to be a part of. This article is instructive in two important ways:
***First: it demonstrates how important professionals really are—healthcare just happens to be today’s example. Absent professional values, things ‘go south’ fast for all stakeholders. As Jauhar points out, naturally the patient’s experience is negatively impacted when the doctor’s professional values slip.
***Second: to me the answer to having a system ‘beat you down’ is (in part) to remember why you entered the profession in the first place. In other words, never forget what your purpose is. Tattoo it on your forehead if you must. For one’s own mental health, a compelling purpose (on most days) will typically trump a bad system.
It’s interesting to note, from a systemic point of view, that the author suggests emphasizing professional values in the next generation. That means ‘instilling professional values early on’ in medical school. Couldn’t agree more. That’s precisely what we’ve helped do at the West Coast Ultrasound Institute. The results are exciting.
Professional values: without them, eventually we’ll all be sick. With them, we’ve got an invaluable formula for health.