The Doctor Factor (washingtonpost.com)
Several have held forth about this recent screed in the Washington Post. I have read it several times and have not been filled with warmth or compassion for the writer.
The man is a doctor. This is the least-examined chapter of his career. But suddenly it all makes sense: Where else but in medicine do you find men and women who never admit a mistake? Who talk more than they listen, and feel entitled to withhold crucial information? Whose lack of tact in matters of life and death might disqualify them for any other field?
Try this exercise: watch a televised piece, or read an article about something you know pretty well, and find all the areas where the reporter left things out, or glossed over big parts, to get to the story they want to tell. Or, just recall the last 20 times you’ve watched some televised fool stick a microphone in the families’ face and ask “..and how do you feel (about this horrible tragedy)”, which in a just world would be followed by a beating.
I have met some really incredible jerks in my practice of medicine, and have to deal with a few nearly every day. Many, many more are friendly both to colleagues and their patients. It’s human nature to recall the unpleasant one out of the sea of thousands, it’s pettyness to paint everyone based on the worst of any group.
The author here has engaged in some pettyness of her own, slamming doctors. It’s fun, and easy to do. Doesn’t make it right, though.
And, question to Andrew Sullivan: How is medicine an “undemocratic profession”? It’s democracy in action: people who are highly motivated and smart with good grades get into medical school. Those who apply themselves get the best residencies, then get to work 80 hour weeks for years to learn a profession, which requires constant education and recertification. All this to be Doctor in the most regulated profession on earth. The vast majority laws which I must practice under are written by people who don’t practice medicine, enforced by non-physicians and openly reported on. That’s democracy.