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Doctors don't want to cure disease

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by ad_sharp, Apr 4, 2004.

  1. ad_sharp

    ad_sharp Senior Member
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    I had a rather unsettling experience last night. A group of my co-workers (who happen to work in the healthcare field) stated that they believe researchers and physicians have the abilities to cure diseases like AIDS, cancer, Parkinson's, etc and don't because it would decrease their income. I stated that any pharmaceutical firm or research institution would be nuts to set on a scientific discovery of this magnitude when they could be making bazillions of dollars and saving lives with the technology.

    The thing that has really started to upset me is this: I am becoming more aware of the negative public opinion concerning physicians and scientists in general. Nevermind that these people have never had any experience or exposure to research beyond what they've heard about on the evening news and little to no idea about the biological and chemical aspects of disease. It seems like they just expect these cures to be easy and self-evident by nature. Of course, I am offended by statements such as these because I have done some research myself and know many people who do it on a daily basis. Some of the research PhDs I know are the greatest humanitarians that I've met.

    Now that I will be entering the medical field as a physician, I feel it is my and all of our duty to try to dispel some of this public resentment toward our profession by doing our part to educate and connect with people from all aspects of life. I am going to be a physician because I love science and I love helping people (trite as that might sound). I just can't believe that so many people think that we would withold a cure for disease because we want to make a few more bucks.
     
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  3. jlee9531

    jlee9531 J,A,S
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    i was just curious and i thought maybe you can answer this for me...do pharm companies offer up AIDS cocktails to troubles areas in Africa for cheap?
     
  4. acretinmelon

    acretinmelon Member
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    Tell me about it! Someone on my floor left a note on my door to the effect of "I heard you say on the phone you're going to be a doctor....you'll be rich but wrong reasons, honey"

    I have no idea what they were trying to say, but it was very unsettling.
     
  5. jay16942

    jay16942 the milk's gone bad...
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    I don't think it's true that the cures are out there and are being withheld. Any student on these boards knows that the biological processes that underly these diseases is extremely complex, and simply not enough is known about things like cancer and AIDS to allow us to come up with an effective cure. Unless they found them all by serendipity...

    At any rate, it's not the doctors who are to blame for this money-motivated attitude towards disease. It's the pharmeceutical companies and the politicians who work together to come up with terrible policies such as the new Medicare drug package or our policies towards AIDS treatment in Africa (which only allow the use of certain brand-name drugs). THOSE are the people that aren't interested in curing disease; they're interested in MAKING MONEY.
     
  6. Gleevec

    Gleevec Peter, those are Cheerios
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    These people are idiots for multiple reasons, the least of it being how complex the diseases are and how open the academic research community is.

    Also these idiots don't understand game theory very well. Lets say 20 of us SDNers were experts in HIV, and that we had someone discovered the cure for AIDS. What incentive do we all have to keep it secret knowing that the benefit of cheating the other 19 SDNers and winning the Nobel Prize and getting millions of dollars in funding as well as becoming a permanent name in future texts? None, that's the problem.

    These people are assuming a prisoner's dilemma with an Nash equilibrium at cooperate-cooperate (ie withhold info from world and not gain personally from cheating and claiming credit). This is not the case at all for those who have seen these games before, as the equilibrium situation is to unilaterally defect, for the reasons stated in the above paragraph (you claim fame, money, all the greedy things you are being accused of doing anyway).

    The main way to force a cooperate-cooperate is to have a "mob" enforce cooperation, however any "mob" attempting to enforce cooperation could do nothing once one of the HIV experts had stated he had "discovered" the cure. And I dont think, assuming we are all greedy pigs, that the mob would be willing to admit it knew all along, and thus ruin their careers, or be able to do something to someone who had just gained instant fame.

    So game theory explains why, even if all doctors are greedy jerks, we still wouldnt keep a cure to anything a secret.

    And then there is the more basic argument that these people will likely have exception to, that is, I doubt most humans are evil enough to let people die like that. But these morons have already made up their mind on that regard.
     
  7. mlw03

    mlw03 Senior Member
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    i've been told (by professors) that yes, some drugs are given to poor african nations for free.

     
  8. Gleevec

    Gleevec Peter, those are Cheerios
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    I think Blizzard, id, and EA sports have a monopoly on game theory then. ;)
     
  9. exmike

    exmike NOR * CAL
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    The unfortunate fact is that society in general now seems to be more receptive to conspiracy theories than in the past. Maybe its because people are growing increasingly cynical towards the world and society itself?
     
  10. Newquagmire

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    though this is generally done in a "buy one, get three free" mechanism because pharmaceuticals fear the precendent of donating drugs.
     
  11. relentless11

    relentless11 Going broke and loving it
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    With regards to AIDS, i'm considering many of us in here have some background in science, so we all know why its so annoying to not find a successful treatment for AIDS. I'm not quite sure how one can "cure" AIDS, since it is a virus, and we've only done so much with regards to the cocktails, etc to prevent AIDS from spreading in an infected person. Heck we still can't really cure influenza, and the common cold, so what does that say. You guys already know how people ask for antibiotics when they have the cold.....that says something..haha.

    Now statements about how physicians/researchers delay, or don't act on things to make it more profitable is a load of crap...to a point. It depends on where you look. I can bet that physicians/researchers are all out there WANTING to find a cure to whatever they are working on. However the environment they are in may not help them find this cure. Money, resources, etc.

    In a research environment, you face many problems, mainly money support. Companies always love to pay academic researchers to do research for them, since its just "cheap quality labor". The facilities, people, and minds are there at a university and so on. However, one has to remember that universities are also businesses. They tax, and charge overheads to companies these days. Specificially, the University of California, charges something like a 48% overhead for any amount of money that comes from a company to a lab. (ie: you want to pay a PhD $10,000 to work, you will have to pay $14,800, since UC will take $4,800). That doesn't make it lucrative anymore.

    Additionally, we have to look at the profitability of these "cures". This is now from a perspective of a pharmaceutical company. Companies get more bang for their buck when they sell treatments, not cures. Being SOLELY a business, they will tend to be biased towards making more $$ than saving peoples lives. This probably is not the researchers fault, but the fault of the CEO's, and so on.

    You will find that even incentives such for "orphan drugs" don't even inspire companies to do much. An orphan drug (if i recall) is a drug that treats a disease that afflicts a small number of people in the US/World. Not gonna make $$ off of it, so the goverment gives you a tax right off, or aid if you develop it. I think one also gets exclusive rights.

    So yea, people usually associate the lack of a cure with the researchers and physicians. Whatever. They probably also think that physicians and researchers are the cause of rising health costs. Who cares. Because, either way, if i do become a physician, i ain't gonna see a dime from what they're charging these people. These companies are the ones that have to change. But then that goes into bigger things, as to why they're charing that much. Could it be greed? Possibly but i'm betting that there's also something else connected to it. Might be a good thing to do research on.
     
  12. skypilot

    skypilot 2K Member
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    I think there some truth to this. That is why big Pharmaceutical companies are devoting billions to research into lifestyle drugs like Viagra and Zocor while neglecting to fund new vaccines to cure third word scourges like Malaria and underfunding the development of new antibiotics.

    The New York Times recently ran an article that talked about the fact that treating heart disease with drugs is often more effective than surgery. But surgery is often done for financial reasons. To some degree the doctors aren't even aware that they are being pressured for financial reasons.

    The other thing I have noticed is that Physicians often are working hard to "rule out" the dire diagnosis that might get them sued if they don't catch it. They are less interested in treating the actual condition that afflicts the patient than "ruling out" the ones that don't. That is one reason that alternative medicine has taken such a strong hold in this country.
     
  13. Lochmoor

    Lochmoor Senior Member
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    Also, you have to think about the fact that doctors and researchers are extremely competetive people. So, they will want to be THE ONE who discovered the cure for _______ disease to become famous. And there's no way that there could be a unified initiative by scientists to slow research down. Society as a whole determines the speed at which discoveries are made. This can be dictated by the amount of money going to research to policy decisions (ex stem cell research).

    Ignorant people make ignorant statements. And as a matter of fact there IS a cure for HIV/AIDS--it's called safe sex and being responsible. But humans are mammals......gotta [email protected]#%.

    (I know the safe sex solution is severely simplifying the problem, but it's true which is not the case for other diseases like cancer or heart disease.)
     
  14. Childe

    Childe Senior Member
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    Not sure what that has to do with alternative medicine, but it certainly adds greatly to the costs of healthcare.
     
  15. AlternateSome1

    AlternateSome1 Burnt Out
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    You seem to have made up your mind too, Gleevac. Calling people morons because they have a different opinion really doesn't help your argument.

    While I am not of the impression that there is a cure being withheld, I do believe that research is directed toward the highest profit venture, which ends up negatively affecting the progress toward a cure/vaccine. Right now producing drugs which slow the rate of progression of the disease while not altering its transmission creates a market in which consumers are held based on the effectiveness of the medication (longer lifespan = more purchases), and an exponential rate of market growth (transmission is not slowed). This is favorable in comparison to a cure, which is only one purchase per person, and a (fairly) constant consumer rate (based upon the birth rate). I think it is pretty easy to see how 365 purchases a year, for many years, by 1% of the population easily overtakes a one time purchase by 100% of the population, no matter what the cost of each of the medications.

    Perhaps it is cynical to place all of research in terms of money, but there are many cases that have risen in the history of medical research which support this cynicism. The Jarvik artificial hearts, early heart transplants, and the early response of blood banks to testing blood supplies for aids are all examples where money affected research or the application of it.

    ~AS1~
     
  16. TheFlash

    TheFlash Playtime Is Over
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    Pharm companies in America face a rigorous FDA approval process. The figure from my Industrial Organization course pits the approval process at 800 million dollars (per drug!) and quickly rising. The profit margins that these companies face is in actuality pretty small, considering the amount of R&D that goes into inventing a new and effective drug. Add that to that fact that patents last less than a couple decades, after which generics flood the market and destroy incentives for the original company. If there was a way to avoid such red tape and bureaucracy, I'm sure pharm companies would be much more benevolent with their products to those less fortunate... until the government listens up, I don't forsee this happening.
     
  17. Newquagmire

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    I don't know if I'd really call "safe sex" a cure. Rather, it's a prevention. Cos if you called safe sex a cure for HIV/AIDS, syphillis, the clamp, etc, then you'd have to call abstaining from smoking, driving automobiles, fast food or eating in general, and just dying before cancer develops in general, etc, cures for cancer and heart disease.
     
  18. indianboy

    indianboy Call me, Baby.
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    Your gullibility astounds and astonishes. While the figure from your course is somewhat accurate (not exactly per drug, but for the process to produce one drug - this includes all failed drugs) your statement about profit margins is manifest cretinism. Having worked at big pharma for 3 years on and off, I can assure you that you would make a wonderful mouthpiece for them, and for this, I congratulate you. Your last sentance is infuriating, and your argument is passe. If you are going to be defending the industries pricing practices, at least attempt to be more familiar with arguments that are in vogue.

    Hope that Helps

    P 'Ignorance Kills' ShankOut
     
  19. xanthines

    xanthines decaying organic matter
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    I was reading the NY Times yesterday and it had something about same-sex marriages. 60% of people approved of an ammendment to the constitution defining marriage as being soley between a man and woman. When asked if changing the constituion to define marriage as being between only a man and a woman, an overwhelming majority siad the this wasn't an important enough issue to change the constitution.

    MY conclusion from this article isn't whether or not america feels that same-sex marriage is OK, but that most people are just idiots. I'm not actively trying to be elitist/condescending/snobbish/whatever, but it's really hard not to think that when people say things like this and the what the original poster encountered above.

    Sorry, but that's just my $00.02 USD.

    -X
     
  20. twinklz

    twinklz Lover of Lagomorphs
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    While I also agree that pharm companies aren't withholding cures, you can't deny that they aren't out for a profit. Think of all the diseases that aren't being researched in favor of more broad based afflictions (diabetes etc) because once they have a drug they want lots of people to buy it! Granted, they also end up helping more people with that approach....
     
  21. thewebthsp

    thewebthsp Shoobeedoowap
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    If by cure you mean disease free, with a series (rather than lifetime) of treatments, then I think HIV can definitely be controlled this way between 10-20 years from now. We should have RNAi deletions of cell lines, and RNAi suppressive therapies, stem cells with knocked out receptors for HIV, and bone marrow transplant with the above therapies. There is also the possibility of innoculation of related or competitive but harmless viruses (Hepatitis G) that effectively makes mortality and morbidity of HIV + patients the same as HIV - people. That would be an effective "cure."

    Of course there's always the possibility of an airborne agent that's out there now, and activates within 10 years killing almost everyone around the globe (imagine if HIV were as contagious as chicken pox??) SARS was as contagious as a cold, but with a 10-20% mortality rate, and a 50% mortality rate in people >40!

    Heh, let's hope that happens _outside_ our lifetimes. Nuclear war is preferable.
     
  22. TheFlash

    TheFlash Playtime Is Over
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    Please enlighten, o wise one. I'm very familiar with pharmaceuticals as well. Do tell of the arguments of yours that are in "vogue." I always wanted to be fashionable.
     
  23. indianboy

    indianboy Call me, Baby.
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    'Nuff Said. You'll find that conflicts of interest are usually disclosed at the outset if you find yourself in the unlikely position of publishing anything in medicine or science. It's a good habit to begin now. Also, at this point, let's not worry about being fashionable; leave the vanguard of pharma-rhetoric to those more adept.

    Hope that Helps

    P 'Death to Pangloss' ShankOut
     
  24. uclacrewdude

    uclacrewdude the uclacrewdude abides
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    i dont wanna cure disease -- i just wanna make babies with nurses.

    but seriously folks ...

    well, one thing the general public doesnt realize is that, just like their affliction with stupidity, theres no "cure" for heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc. the age of infectious disease is over, for the most part. now most of the diseases people die from are chronic, and those tend to be behaviorally-based. why did gene siskel die? b/c he lived in chicago and ate sh!tty food. a heart bypass is a treatment, not a cure. with chronic diseases you get a lot of dual interaction from both the environment and genetics. so unless people accept exercising all your life as a cure for heart disease and diabetes, then i guess i am not gonna be a successful doctor. eating foods without a high glycemic index is as close as i can get to offering a cure for diabetes.

    i saw that someone said "its not the doctors that are to blame ..." actually, it is, kinda. in the 80s and 90s doctors started specializing mostly for the money and the lifestyle. indeed. granted im just an ms1, but i say we should train monkeys to read a freakin x-ray or mri instead of getting a radiologist to do it; same with a pathologist. people like that have made a lifestyle decision based on not being with people -- something i see as vital to the medical mission -- combined with making buttloads of money (well, for the radiologist). sure, we need radiologists and pathologists, but i say we should make those like RN or PA jobs rather than physician jobs. im not saying lifestyle isnt important, just that many physicians nowadays act as if theyre owed something for being a physician -- which we arent. thankfully, that trend is starting to reverse, as i see more and more docs who are just outright cool and doing what they love. people who choose a specialty primarily for the money/lifestyle betray the medical mission. but recognize A) that we as a profession are not exempt from blame, for we too have succumbed to greed and perversion of our mission and B) any position you take is going to have a stigma associated with it, and its your job to actively and personally make a difference.

    edit: i was thinking of going into ct surg and taking a dive down to "only" 150K/yr out of spite. then i realized i probably wouldnt have fun doing that anyway.
     
  25. TheFlash

    TheFlash Playtime Is Over
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    ok, you win. You alone understand the "vanguard of pharma-rhetoric." If you ever find yourself in the unlikely position of publishing, work a bit on those skilled explanations. It's a good habit to begin now.

    I'm done with this.
     
  26. Gleevec

    Gleevec Peter, those are Cheerios
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    Nope, but the other paragraphs do. Maybe you should respond to those? Or perhaps there is no response.

    And these people are morons, there is no way around it. Look at the way they treated the OP even writing messages to him. Those kinds of scare tactics are bullcrap, and only idiots use them.

    So yes, these people are idiots.

    And for why their viewpoint cannot possibly be correct, read the rest of my post instead of highlighting one sentence and ignoring the rest. :rolleyes:

    You sound like you're disagreeing just to be disagreeable though, since you said "While I am not of the impression that there is a cure being withheld."

    So again, yeah its pretty moronic to come up with these conspiracy theories. And they werent talking about allocation of research resources, that was brought up seperately by SDNers on this thread, so stop giving these idiots more credit than they deserve.
     
  27. BerkeleyPremed

    BerkeleyPremed Membership Revoked
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    I agree with Gleevec 100% here. These people really are brainless, ignorant, wastes of space...these people take up volume that could be better occupied by more intelligent, rationally thinking human beings. Anyone who says things like, "Oh, the cures for cancer and AIDS are already out there. Doctors just don't want them to get out because they'll see a huge decrease in salary" just has no clue how biomedical research works. These people probably have never taken a single class in biochemistry or microbiology...as a result, they know little to nothing as to the growth and reproduction of cancer cells or the biochemical basis for how AIDS can ravage the immune system.

    Using scare tactics like leaving nasty little notes on someone's door really doesn't lend them any credence either. Gleevec, what is your major over at Duke?
     
  28. TonyMontana03

    TonyMontana03 Medicine Man
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    I can't say I agree with people who claim that there is an HIV cure out there and the only thing stopping it from going public is money.

    I have been working in Haiti for six months now at an HIV clinical treatment and research facility and I must say that the doctors are devoted to aiding their patients, despite their relatively low pay. Even after only six months volunteering down here I cannot imagine myself leaving for a simple pay raise.

    There is so much more to LIFE than dollars and cents.

    About the meds... there are subsidized drugs sent to the developing world. Most patients, however, pay nothing thanks to the World Bank, the Global Fund and UNICEF among other money-granting institutions.
     
  29. Whisker Barrel Cortex

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    As you yourself stated, you are just an MS1 and have no idea what is involved in the practice of radiology or pathology. So please refrain from insulting a whole group of specialists that you really have no knowledge about. Radiology takes a great deal of clinical and scientific knowledge, actually much more than many other specialties. It is a good idea to know the limitations of your knowledge before you make such bold statements.
     
  30. Gleevec

    Gleevec Peter, those are Cheerios
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    Can you really blame him though? Its not as if the pro-radiology fanatics on SDN have any qualms about bragging about how they will work off a yacht in the Carribean or whatnot.

    The irony being the very technology and lack of direct contact that would allow for teleradiologists to work from a yacht would also allow some Indian or Chinese person to do his job equally well for pennies on the dollar.

    I have all the respect in the world for hard working radiologists who interact daily with doctors and patients and help improve care in the US, but I can't say that uclacrewdude is completely wrong either based on some of the really arrogant stuff Ive read radiologists posting.
     
  31. JohnHolmes

    JohnHolmes Large Member
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    Stop befriending personal injury attorneys.

    CCW
     
  32. AlternateSome1

    AlternateSome1 Burnt Out
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    I did read your post. I highlighted that sentence because it was what I was commenting on at the beginning of mine. I still feel it is inconsistant to put forth a very well thought out argument then finish by bashing the intelligence of people.

    In regards to me being disagreeable, I think I misframed my argument. I was attempting to establish a level of truth behind the mentioned "conspiracy theories". From that point it seems reasonable for word of mouth and lack of understanding to twist this truth into doctors hiding a cure. This is very akin to the formation of urban legends. I don't believe people are morons for listening or retelling urban legends, they are just not skeptical enough.

    Again, I do not disagree with your general argument. It does seem far fetched for a cure to be hidden from public, but it does make for good gossip. ;)

    ~AS1~
     
  33. Gleevec

    Gleevec Peter, those are Cheerios
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    And its a bunch of idiots propagating these urban legends. Apparently no one has heard of the Tulane med student working on his own cancer (I guess he is holding back his own cure?). No one talks about the hundreds of volunteers administrating vaccines in 3rd world countries oftentimes putting their own lives in danger.

    The fact is, these people ARE idiots. There's no way around it. They're idiots in the same way the KKK are morons.

    Its dumbarses like these that start spreading propaganda about not taking vaccines and about how people don't need to listen to their doctors about fulfilling their prescription (which is especially bad in terms of antibiotics), endangering everyone with diseases that had been contained for half a century.

    So I fail to see how these people ARENT idiots, especially in lieu of the scare tactics they used on some of the people on this thread. There is nothing mutually exclusive about having a complete argument AND recognizing that a group is full of morons-- most people do the same for similarly crazed groups.

    And the thing that catapults them from being disagreeable to being plain moronic is how virulently biased they are without even considering the evidence. You seriously have to be delusional to believe these things, and there is obviously no amount of fact-regurgitation that will satiate these conspirary theorists.
     
  34. AlternateSome1

    AlternateSome1 Burnt Out
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    I am assuming from your vehemence that you have never fallen for an urban legend. Furthermore, you must have never repeated anything that anyone has said to you without first checking the verity of the information. If this is the case, then I applaud you.

    I once believed that Lauren Hill and Tommy Hillfiger both made racist comments. I once thought that it was plausible for Fornication Under Consent of King to be the origin of a word. I even believed that eating turkey would make you sleepy due to the tryptophan in it. I may well be a moron, but I don't think that having believed stories is enough to deem me one.

    ~AS1~
     
  35. Whisker Barrel Cortex

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    You make it sound like all of the radiology people on this board act like this, while it is a small minority (mainly Dr.Cuts as much as I like the guy). Do you see Jim Picotte, Voxel, me, Doxter, and several others posting like this? No. Its like painting all neurosurgeons with the same brush because one or two you know talk about how they are doing it for the power, money, and women. In fact you could use unfavorable generalizations about every specialty except IM, peds, and FP.

    Gen Surg = power hungry, think it will get them women. I know of at least one who admits this is partially his reason for choosing the field.

    Urology, ENT, optho = prestige plus great hours and pay is all they are after, right.

    Ortho = only after the money (some of the highest paid docs out there).

    Derm = great hours and pay.

    Psych = easy life

    So you see, although I know of people in each of these fields that has these as a big part of going into these fields, this does not make them all , or even the majority of them so.

    Also, to insult a specialty that he thinks "trained monkeys should do" is pretty damn stupid. In fact, this can be said of any specialty. I had to think actually THINK a lot less as a medicine intern than as a radiology resident. Much of medicine is extremely formulaic.

    It is his presumption in making such comments when he, in fact, knows so little that angers me, not his opinions.
     
  36. Gleevec

    Gleevec Peter, those are Cheerios
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    Its a small minority that explicitly state how leisurely radiology is, but it seems as if everyone goes along with it. I havent seen a radiologist on those threads mentioning yachts point out the problems with teleradiology or counter claims that if radiology is a real medical specialty (which it is), you pretty much should be working WITH people at some point or another-- and none of them are nearly as vocal as the pro-yacht club.

    So basically radiology has an image problem (no pun intended) at least on SDN because of the number of "can I work from my yacht" posts. The radiologists I know work quite hard, but they work in a hospital and interact with other people, and the reason they're in it is for the technology mainly. I can respect that, but I find it hard to expect anyone to place much faith in a group of posters who explicitly (or implicitly, by not correcting other posters) state that they basically dont want to interact with patients and want to get paid for sitting on a yacht while reading films.

    I think the radiologists who stick around hospitals and help docs and patients out are immune to these criticisms, but it seems few of these great individuals post on SDN. It really does seem as if only the teleradiologists/yacht club members post, and post often.
     
  37. Gleevec

    Gleevec Peter, those are Cheerios
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    Urban legends are like the movie. I dont know anything about the Hilfigger thing so I cant say anything about that, but there is a huge difference between being incorrect about the origin of a profane word and accusing an entire community of murdering millions merely for profit.

    Its the gravity of the accusation without factchecking that makes their claims so idiotic.

    It kind of reminds me of the French. For a long time, the #1 book sold there was this book saying how 9/11 was an American conspiracy upon itself in order to justify helping Jews (the premise was similar to that). I would hope that most people on SDN would consider people buying into such crap as idiots.

    I think there are different levels of urban legends, and while being misled on the origin of a profane word is fine by me, if you are going to levy such a vile label as "greedy murderer" on someone, you better fact check or think a bit more before speaking.
     
  38. gary5

    gary5 Senior Member
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    Your coworkers are fools. If they ever give you advice, don't take it.
     
  39. AD2020

    AD2020 Member
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    While I think researchers in medicine definitely deserve more credit, I think that physicians are very well respected (one of the most respected positions for good reason) and when I tell people I'm going to be a doctor, I almost always get a very positive response.

    I think whoever has a categorically negative view of physicians or medical researchers is both (1) ignorant and (2) hopelessly cynical.
     
  40. Mr Reddly

    Mr Reddly Snowglobe!
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  41. Gleevec

    Gleevec Peter, those are Cheerios
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  42. Mr Reddly

    Mr Reddly Snowglobe!
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    True. I just know some people who use them. :thumbup:
    Hey... There's a possible topic for the Duke essay! :laugh:
     
  43. CalBeE

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    Those devices look like MP3 Player and Pager to me...
     
  44. IrishOarsman

    IrishOarsman My Rx: Guiness
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    You make the fundamental assumption that there is one entity "drug companies" as opposed to a number of highly competitive ventures. Many of those ventures have no income from stop-gap aids drugs, thus many of their CEOs would sell their souls for the AIDS bullet. Furthermore, designing a new vaccine to be given to every newborn child (esp w/ x years non-generic) means serious, undeniable milk and cookies for shareholders. Please get out of the rediculous Johhny Nemonic senarios.

    Here's one bit guys: capitolism in big pharma is a good thing. They want to make money off the drugs they sell, so they reseach major diseases (I recognize the $$ coming out of lifestyle drugs right now, but really there is only one type - penis-get-hard - and I bet there are only so many ways to do that). Why is that a good thing? Well, because otherwise focus groups set upon specific diseases(ie, some rare childhood leukemia that happens to affect rich white kids) could set the agenda for, say, a government mandated healthcare agenda.

    There are a lot of problems mixed up with capitolism in general in this specific case: too much cooperation (as opposed to fiscal regulation) from government, not enough transparency when it comes to long term earnings vs R+D, and overadvertizement. All of which has been countered by a well intentioned media critizing the hell out of healthcare in general. But then the media gets lazy and uses them as a general scapegoat even when not addressing specific issues such as these, sometimes with a PS-doctors suck too (who just recently dropped below 10% of healthcare costs for the first time ever).

    BUT I think the real problem is totally divorced from $$ and medicine. I just used an article in my thesis by Leo Alexander, written in 1949 in NEJM. I highly recommend anyone with an interest in history of medicine to check it out. His worry: if nazi propaganda could destroy the professional ethic of doctors so quickly in germany, how can we make sure it doesn't happen again? His answer was to return to a focus on caring against the technical mindset of cure-ers, people who simply mind the machines we have created. When I saw the topic of this post, I thought of this article and was dissapointed by the content of the arguement. As future doctors, we cannot allow our self-identity to be dictated by constant defense against these highly technical, political issues. Nor can we possibly ignore them, but the original post shows what happens: we get involved, nothing gets fixed, we get the blame. I say still get involved, but have something else behind the profession than just being able to cure. Have a real professional ethic, become people others recognize as deserving of respect- in general, as a profession, and not just in the clinic one on one (where I think enough doctors are still very good to make hope appropriate).

    Whoohoo! Tangent. Sorry. :)
     
  45. ad_sharp

    ad_sharp Senior Member
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    Ditto. I don't mean to become overly defensive in the face of criticism toward the profession. However, I do feel like there is a large popular resentment in our society focused toward physicians. I don't know what the actual cause for this is, but I'm sure that there are many facets to it. To the average Joe, the high cost of healthcare and prescrition drugs can be most easily blamed on the aspects of the healthcare industry that they actually see and experience (ie, the doctors). People, generally speaking, don't entertain thoughts about malpractice insurance, unwarranted lawsuits, or inflated prices from pharmaceutical firms. It is much easier to blame the most obvious person, the physician.

    The real point that I wanted to make with this thread was this:
    We, as future doctors, have a responsibility to better inform the public about the problems in healthcare and combat negative stereotypes through a prudent, compassionate practice of medicine. That may mean something as insignificant as being more gracious to our patients-offering up a simple smile and showing genuine concern for their welfare. I have shadowed far too many doctors who have no respect for the people that they treat, and this gives us all a bad rep. The vast majority of physicians are genuinely good people. However, a bad experience with one sticks in the mind of a person, and they will judge future physicians solely based on the fact that they are in the same career field. We are patient advocates and we have to work to gain the trust of the people who use our services. As mentioned by many posts, people that make statements such as these are generally ignorant of disease and the medical profession. We cannot zap someone with a laser and cause them to magically think with rationale. We can only control our own actions and hope that our deeds change a few minds.

    To everyone that's posted, thank you for your comments. They've helped me sort out a lot of my concerns.
     
  46. IrishOarsman

    IrishOarsman My Rx: Guiness
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    You're definately welcome, thanks for bringing it up (and for reading through my long-arse post). These are really good issues to struggle through as we go into the profession, I think, because they will be lurking just underneath the surface once you enter and it will be easy to be distracted by all the damn stuff we have to learn to get the big picture.

    I don't think doctors have to be apologizing all the time, nor do they have to always toe the line on one side or another of these debates. Ignoring all the fluff about $$ and medicine, we have to be confident that there is something good at the heart of the profession. I think of it as a relationship between two people, one that has many special aspects but a singular aim- health (in a broad, not-simply-pathology sense).
     

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