Monday, April 5, 2010

FODEMAN: Obamacare's doctorless world - Washington Times

FODEMAN: Obamacare's doctorless world - Washington Times I have worked in many training hospitals during my 30 year nursing career and I can attest that what the author says about physician training is absolutely true. I have awakened many a doc at 3am after they had just fallen asleep after having been on their feet for over 36 hours. I personally know resident physicians who, after having spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on their medical training, worked for 2-3 years making about 25 to 30,000 a year which is practically poverty level when you have out-sized loans to pay back and you are working almost 80 hours a week. And this is after 4 years of college and 4 years of medical school! To gain some perspective let's compare this to the salaries and conditions of other jobs and professions. For example, a graduate of a 4 year engineering program typically has an entry level salary of 50,000 a year depending on the specialty field. A nurse fresh out of school will have a starting salary of 25-30,000 a year but if he or she works in a hospital and gets paid time and half or over time plus benefits this salary package could be considerably more than what a resident physician makes!

So what motivates physicians to push through the pain and keep going? The biggest incentive is that they will one day be able to generate enough income to pay back their debts and live comfortably. So now that health care reform has taken away this incentive, how many bright young people do you think will choose medicine when they see they might be able to do better sooner in another field? If more and more students choose other fields most certainly this will decrease the number of doctors we have in this country especially in underserved areas where we already have a critical shortage. The situation might even be worse with wealth redistribution because with everybody making less the incentive will be to find a job situation that has the least training pain and pays the most money without increasing their tax burden.

We can hope that physicians will choose their field because of a higher calling and that enough of them will answer the call. Otherwise it will be a horrible world without doctors.

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