Saturday, May 23, 2009

Healthcare Rant

No, this isn't a typical one. It's not even a partisan rant, in my opinion. But here it is:

Doctors deserve to retire early and rich.

There, I said it. As healthcare plans and ideas for "fixing" it all are bantered around, please keep this one little sentence in mind. Let's break it down into two pieces.

First, the early part. Why early? Lots of good reasons. First, as we age our talents and skills deteriorate. It's natural. Sure, there are exceptions and notice I didn't say they have to retire early, just that I want them to be able to. I don't want to be operated on by a doctor in his sixties that's still working because he can't afford to retire yet. I wouldn't mind it if he's doing it because he's still one of the best people at what he does, I just don't want doctors hanging on to the profession because they need to financially. Another good reason is that we as humans are naturally resistant to change and old doctors learned how to doctor a long time ago. Techniques and procedures improve over time, and education does as well. That's not to say a young doctor will always be better...far from it. I'm just saying it's a good thing in general for a doctor who feels like it is time to move on to be able to.

Okay, now for the potential fire starter...the rich part. Why do doctors deserve to retire rich? It's simple to me. It's very hard to become a doctor. It takes a heavy up front investment of time, energy, and in most cases money to just become a doctor. It should also require a level of initial intelligence that's very high. For that to happen it needs to be a competition to even get accepted into medical schools. That means people need to want to become doctors, and want to in a big way. That competition will weed out those that are less intelligent.

I want that weed-out process. I think it's important to maintaining a high quality of health care. So how do we best achieve it? Well, it certainly isn't by removing one of the biggest incentives to becoming a doctor, and that is money. The role of a doctor in society has and always will be somewhat revered for many reasons, and money has always been one of these. I'm fine with that. I think we should all be fine with that. No, I'm not saying you have to turn every doctor into a multi-millionaire by the time they are forty years old. But I am saying they should be able to retire by 55 to a life of leisure that includes boating, golf, country clubs, and dinner parties with friends. A high level of comfort, if you will. This will help insure the best and the brightest continue to WANT to become a doctor in this country.

Canadian medical schools are having trouble getting enough students from what I understand. This does not bode well for the future of the Canadian medical system, in my opinion. Let's don't let that happen here.


Jane Elizabeth said...

Interesting post. As a democratic doctor, I have to say I'm waiting with trepidation to see what the future will hold. We are part of a generation of doctors that has never known wealth as did our predecessors. Managed care in the early 90's combined with relative wealth in so many other fields (silicon valley...) made it unlikely most doctors will be in that category. Don't misunderstand, we are better off than most in the world but we'd be much more comfortable without our giant student loans. I do agree, tho, that earlier retirement would benefit the public for some, but not all doctors. That won't be likely for most though.

Jane Elizabeth said...

And to add something else, (I typed all that on my bb before and I just had to stop) you don't do this for the money. Period.
You really have to want to take care of people, not mind blood and guts and putting yourself at risk (legally) and not mind crazy hours sometimes.
I personally thrive on the gratitude my patients show me when they feel better. I could never be a dentist :)