Physician Extinction

Doctor Diaries: Physician Extinction

by par8o

Guest post, authored by Charles Yowell, MD

We are witnessing “Physician Extinction”.

I saw it in person last night, when I was invited to our hospital’s “Physician Leadership University” event. Mind you, there were 60+ Hospital Administrators and “Vice Presidents,” and only 30+ physicians at this “Physician’s” meeting. Admin support always fears for their jobs if not seen supporting the propaganda at these free dinners (it was finger food, I had to eat again later when I got home). Here was the message, as given to us by a non-practicing MD/MBA from Palo Alto California: (I paraphrase) “The economy is so bad that we have to change the way Hospitals and Physicians ALIGN themselves to get the most VALUE offered to the patient.”

The theme of the night was “ALIGN” the physician with the hospital, under the auspices of creating “VALUE” for the patient. All just thinly veiled propaganda to say that “WE, the Hospital, OWN YOU doctors and WE NEED you to use our services exclusively, refer within the system exclusively, and take a salary cut or we will all lose.” Unsurprisingly, the Hospital announced a salary freeze and no cost of living increases for ALL employees, excepts senior Administrators. This is blatant and wanton manipulation. Thankfully, I have already found a new job, in a new town. But others can not leave this town where they have practiced for 10-20 years. Tonight’s presentation felt like I was at a “vacation rental time share pitch”, where the physicians are being sold crap and being told it is gold, “the fantastic future” and the way “it’s gotta be.” Well, not one practicing MD in that room was buying it.

This must be the moment just before a group realizes that extinction is in the air. You can not move. Can not panic. Can not feel. You are vastly outnumbered and unprepared to defend yourselves. You just have that sense of impending doom, of being on the endangered species list, facing mass and final extinction.

I witnessed the Normalcy Bias playing out in a room of defenseless, well meaning, well trained, great docs. Physicians have about a 5-10 year life left in America. After that we are extinct. Nurses, Pharmacists, and Administrators will be all that is left to run a hospital. The doctor is too expensive and is the largest single monthly expenditure for the budget every month (my fiance is a Hospital Accountant). All I can say is, it made me sick to my stomach to have the Non-Physicians tell us how to be physicians, when to take calls and where to send our patients, according to their “managed care protocols”.

It’s over for us.

Unless Par8o saves the day.

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