My perception is that doctors in previous generations were more likely to devote their entire lives (professional and “personal” time) to the practice of medicine. Today’s doctors are more likely to consider lifestyle and not automatically put everything into doctoring. This is partly cultural –as younger professionals in general have put more emphasis on balance– but a large part is structural, because residents are working fewer hours by law and because more doctors are working for others, which encourages an employee mentality.
I don’t really have a problem with doctors who want to have a life outside medicine, but overall I prefer to be treated by someone who’s really dedicated and wants to devote most of their waking hours to it. By the way I feel the same about other professionals I work with.
So I’d like to see some of the structural issues addressed to encourage those who want to go all out to do so. Kaiser Health News has an article on the topic today (Doctors Transform How They Practice Medicine), which gets at my point at least indirectly. The article discusses how physicians are opening “medical homes” to provide more coordinated care or opening concierge-style practices that limit the number of patients and charge extra fees.
Those are both kind of interesting but also a bit ho hum. I’d rather see a broader array of offerings including those that include more remote services and incorporate specialty care. I hope and think they’ll come because despite the fact that many docs are rushing into hospital employment, I believe many would rather work for themselves if there were a viable way to make it happen.
By David E. Williams of the Health Business Group.