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Negativity in medicine

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Tea Leaf

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I work as a scribe in an ED so I get a lot of opportunities to ask physicians about their jobs, their lives, and witness them doing their work first hand. I will be honest: the majority of them do not seem happy or satisfied with their jobs or their lives.

A specific physician told me that you give up a lot. You spend a lot of time away from your family, and you become very tired. He also said, "When you're 29 and you've just become an attending, you feel great and like you're on top of the world. But after you've been doing it for 20 years, you become tired, and you won't feel like it's worth it."

Another physician who is in his 70's told me that now, medicine is more mechanized, and less clinical. He said he didn't feel like the physicians of today are as apt with their clinical skills, as they can rely on more diagnostic data. Instead of doctors providing medical care to their patients, he said they've become robots in a system that makes money for many other industries.

I just want to say that this doesn't change my feeling about going into medicine. Honestly, medicine is the only thing that I can see myself doing in the future. I know that it will be a lot of hard work, and that I will give up a lot. What I was unaware of is the dissatisfaction and negativity so widespread among people with the career I want to have.

And so my question is, (especially to current physicians but also to everyone is general) have you seen a lot of this negative sentiment in your experience? How do you deal with it? Do you feel like everything is/was "worth it"? Do you really feel like a robot?
 
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Astra

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A lot of dissatisfaction comes from administrators who don't have half the knowledge you do telling you how to do your job.

Add to that society perceives doctors as being greedy and wealthy, its easy to see why negativity occurs.
 
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libertyyne

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I work as a scribe in an ED so I get a lot of opportunities to ask physicians about their jobs, their lives, and witness them doing their work first hand. I will be honest: the majority of them do not seem happy or satisfied with their jobs or their lives.

A specific physician told me that you give up a lot. You spend a lot of time away from your family, and you become very tired. He also said, "When you're 29 and you've just become an attending, you feel great and like you're on top of the world. But after you've been doing it for 20 years, you become tired, and you won't feel like it's worth it."

Another physician who is in his 70's told me that now, medicine is more mechanized, and less clinical. He said he didn't feel like the physicians of today are as apt with their clinical skills, as they can rely on more diagnostic data. Instead of doctors providing medical care to their patients, he said they've become robots in a system that makes money for many other industries.

I just want to say that this doesn't change my feeling about going into medicine. Honestly, medicine is the only thing that I can see myself doing in the future. I know that it will be a lot of hard work, and that I will give up a lot. What I was unaware of is the dissatisfaction and negativity so widespread among people with the career I want to have.

And so my question is, (especially to current physicians but also to everyone is general) have you seen a lot of this negative sentiment in your experience? How do you deal with it? Do you feel like everything is/was "worth it"? Do you really feel like a robot?
Every industry says "the golden age of X industry has passed" This nostolgia is not uncommon in any field. I would take their perception with a grain of salt since they probably have never been in any other industry.
 
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Astra

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Every industry says "the golden age of X industry has passed" This nostolgia is not uncommon in any field. I would take their perception with a grain of salt since they probably have never been in any other industry.

I'd say the golden age to be a physician in America has passed. Used to have much more freedom, respect. Now its watered down by bureaucracy, midlevels thinking they're better than you and people thinking you're the reason healthcare is unaffordable.
 
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libertyyne

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I'd say the golden age to be a physician in America has passed. Used to have much more freedom, respect. Now its watered down by bureaucracy, midlevels thinking they're better than you and people thinking you're the reason healthcare is unaffordable.
I'd also say the golden age of journalism has passed, the golden age of computer science has passed, the golden age of academia has passed, the golden age of movies has passed, the list could go on an on.
 
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Astra

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I'd also say the golden age of journalism has passed, the golden age of computer science has passed, the golden age of academia has passed, the golden age of movies has passed, the list could go on an on.

You might be right who knows. As certain fields enter a decline, other fields enter their golden ages. This is the golden age to be a hospital, college administrator
 

gyngyn

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I love my work. My colleagues are delightful, thoughtful, thankful people.
Our patients, students and residents contribute to a life filled with satisfaction.
I can't imagine a finer profession.
 
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libertyyne

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You might be right who knows. As certain fields enter a decline, other fields enter their golden ages. This is the golden age to be a hospital, college administrator
Its the same kind of thinking that the older generations say they dont make music like they once did or they dont make cars like they used to. When in all actuality cars are the safest they have ever been, violent crime is the lowest it has ever been the world is a much better place, longer life expectancy, less people in povery, etc etc its human nature to look at the past with rose tinted glasses. I am certain that we will say the golden age of medicine has passed when we will be done practicing for 20 years.
 
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sullen-burger

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Every older generation thinks they had it great and that times aren't what they used to be.

GOOD.

Cause while you were watching "Howdy Doody" you still had to worry about things like POLIO and SMALLPOX.
 
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aalamruad

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I'd also say the golden age of journalism has passed, the golden age of computer science has passed, the golden age of academia has passed, the golden age of movies has passed, the list could go on an on.
The golden age of CS hasn't passed. Machine learning/artificial intelligence will bring absolutely enormous opportunities to CS in the very near future. Your point is well taken, though
 
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libertyyne

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The golden age of CS hasn't passed. Machine learning/artificial intelligence will bring absolutely enormous opportunities to CS in the very near future. Your point is well taken, though
http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2016/02/moores-law-really-is-dead-this-time/
People working in tech would say, there is a lot more corporatization in the big tech firms and less ability to have massive pay-days. That it is more competitive to get an APP to market that actually pays back. Hardware chips have stopped progressing the way they used to according to moores law, etc etc. AI is one sub field, but there are plenty of medical sub fields where it is probably golden right now, Derm, Ortho, Optho etc. Heck in the 90's if you had a pulse you could get a sweet tech gig.
 

kb1900

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The golden age of CS hasn't passed. Machine learning/artificial intelligence will bring absolutely enormous opportunities to CS in the very near future. Your point is well taken, though
id say cs has been in its golden age and will continue to be for decades
 
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Hospitalized

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Funny. I work in an ER and nearly every physician seems very happy. Not many jobs where you get to work 10-15 8-hour shifts a month and still rake in 300k+. Yeah the old docs are a little burnt out, but please go find me a profession where the people who have been in it for 20+ years aren't bitter? We all get tired of working hard after a while.
 
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doctorbob23

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If those attendings' lives are as bad as they say, I think they would have quit by now.

Its not the profession its the fact that they are human and we tend to be dissatisfied creatures who see the greener grass on the other side
 
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aalamruad

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http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2016/02/moores-law-really-is-dead-this-time/
People working in tech would say, there is a lot more corporatization in the big tech firms and less ability to have massive pay-days. That it is more competitive to get an APP to market that actually pays back. Hardware chips have stopped progressing the way they used to according to moores law, etc etc. AI is one sub field, but there are plenty of medical sub fields where it is probably golden right now, Derm, Ortho, Optho etc. Heck in the 90's if you had a pulse you could get a sweet tech gig.
AI can hardly be disregarded as "one sub field" when it's predicted to have a multi-trillion dollar impact on the job market in the next two to three decades. With that significant of an influence, it's not really comparable to a few successful medical specialties, nor are things like transistor count per chip really relevant.
 
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Astra

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Its the same kind of thinking that the older generations say they dont make music like they once did or they dont make cars like they used to.

But they are right though. Music today IS different from what it used to be. Whether its better or not is subjective.

Same with cars. Cars aren't made the way they used to be. Cars today are made using more technology and much higher safety standards which don't allow the same body types seen in the past.

When in all actuality cars are the safest they have ever been, violent crime is the lowest it has ever been the world is a much better place, longer life expectancy, less people in povery, etc etc its human nature to look at the past with rose tinted glasses.

Not disagreeing with you there.

But there are valid claims to be made in regards to praising how things used to be. Back then you could work part time and go to college debt free. Buy a house a few years after graduating etc.

Just because certain aspects of society ( healthcare) have improved doesn't mean others haven't gotten worse and to say all criticism is rosy tinted glasses is inaccurate.

I am certain that we will say the golden age of medicine has passed when we will be done practicing for 20 years.

Who knows. You could be right or wrong.
 
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Jobs are riddled with frequent negative feedback. When you're the mouse that puts in 100% of their effort only to still shocked by electricity, there is going to be fatigue. Professions are faced with the dilemma that the end product isn't going to be reflective of the effort invested into the endeavor. This can be attributed to inefficiency of the system that is being worked on. When it comes to sick patients, you may not always be dealing with an efficient system.

Whether you feel challenged or trapped can often be a fine line which can be easily altered with a change of setting, pace, or work load. It has been more likely than not my experience that dissatisfied employees are less likely to see their careers as progressive opportunities to invest in their own human capital and see the totality of their existence as being: self worth = job instead of self = job + ???. I feel that many factors play into this such as doctors feeling like they have already fully matured into their role, feelings that they will never mature into their role, or that too much of the job takes away the leftover time/energy they could invest into ???.
 
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libertyyne

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AI can hardly be disregarded as "one sub field" when it's predicted to have a multi-trillion dollar impact on the job market in the next two to three decades. With that significant of an influence, it's not really comparable to a few successful medical specialties, nor are things like transistor count per chip really relevant.
They said that about biotechnology at one time and those promises never came through. I am not saying AI is not the wave of the future, I am saying that predicting the future is difficult. AI is very much a small subfield right now.
 

UNMedGa

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Several things.

1) it's easy to become salty when you see people die a lot. Additionally, some patients do not show a lot of gratitude and act entitled to something you can't give them; depending on your personality, this might get to you over time.

2) medicine is changing a lot and a lot of these older docs don't like how things are now compared to how they were. These changes will be a given for us. We might see further changes that we'll be annoyed by. Adding EMRs to healthcare has been a big factor too, with legal and policy issues also playing a role.

3) your particular ED may have a more negative workplace culture than other EDs.

4) healthcare admins are largely non-medical and impose rules without the perspective of a healthcare provider. I feel that doctors are becoming more savvy in healthcare admin (pursuing MBA/MPH, paying attention to administrative issues during their training, etc.) and I think the goal should be for more physician-administered healthcare systems.
 
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utah34

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I'm an ED scribe as well. It's a mixed bag with the physicians I work with, but most of them really enjoy their jobs. There's a couple of doctors here who can go downhill fast when they encounter a stubborn patient or drug-seeker, and one of those doctors has told me multiple times not to do medicine. But the majority of docs here love it here and couldn't see themselves doing anything else.
 

Tea Leaf

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Thank you for your input!
 
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Huggy

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I'm curious if there are regional differences in physician satisfaction. Based on my very limited exposure, it seems to me that in red areas physicians tend to be much more pessimistic about their jobs, while in blue areas they tend to be much more happy with their careers.

Is there a possibility that political ideologies fuel these emotions? It seems like there are just too many large pockets where "all the physicians love their jobs" and "all the physicians hate their jobs" to not think there might be a correlation.
 
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UNMedGa

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I'm curious if there are regional differences in physician satisfaction. Based on my very limited exposure, it seems to me that in red areas physicians tend to be much more pessimistic about their jobs, while in blue areas they tend to be much more happy with their careers.

Is there a possibility that political ideologies fuel these emotions? It seems like there are just too many large pockets where "all the physicians love their jobs" and "all the physicians hate their jobs" to not think there might be a correlation.

Not so sure. I've shadowed and worked with doctors in very red areas and they were by and large very happy.
 
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Astra

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I'm curious if there are regional differences in physician satisfaction. Based on my very limited exposure, it seems to me that in red areas physicians tend to be much more pessimistic about their jobs, while in blue areas they tend to be much more happy with their careers.

Is there a possibility that political ideologies fuel these emotions? It seems like there are just too many large pockets where "all the physicians love their jobs" and "all the physicians hate their jobs" to not think there might be a correlation.

I've found that the doctors in rural areas love their job vs the ones at large hospitals in the cities.
 

Tea Leaf

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I'm in the northeast and work at a second level trauma center in a poorer area (used to be wealthy).
 
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Huggy

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I'm in the northeast and work at a second level trauma center in a poorer area (used to be wealthy). I met one miserable ED doctor locum who thought that the system should be changed so that people must call their PCP offices and get "referrals" into the ED or come via EMS. He thought it was ridiculous that we couldn't turn people away.

He also wanted to start a heated lube business, and hated people who took vitamins.

Sounds like a great solution to out of control healthcare costs
 

hungrybox

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the golden age of computer science has passed

Is there any particular reason why you think that? Computer science is exploding. It still hasn't been fully implemented in many, many fields. Just look at the pathetic state of EMR's.

Also, self-driving cars are on the way.

And the singularity hasn't even arrived yet!
 

Huggy

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Is there any particular reason why you think that? Computer science is exploding. It still hasn't been fully implemented in many, many fields. Just look at the pathetic state of EMR's.

Also, self-driving cars are on the way.

And the singularity hasn't even arrived yet!
If/when the singularity arrives, the golden age of everything for humans will have passed
 
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Every industry says "the golden age of X industry has passed" This nostolgia is not uncommon in any field. I would take their perception with a grain of salt since they probably have never been in any other industry.
The golden age of the sanitation industry has passed... :(
 

Perrotfish

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Every industry says "the golden age of X industry has passed" This nostolgia is not uncommon in any field. I would take their perception with a grain of salt since they probably have never been in any other industry.

There is data to back up the idea of a 'golden age' of medicine, at least in terms of salary. The 'golden age' began in 1965, with the creation of Mediciare, and peaked in 1990. Basically the government gave away so much money that physician salaries doubled in inflation adjusted dollars, and the respect/freedom/job satisfaction increased in parallel with the money, because it always does.

Since then its been normalizing as the government finally tried to stop hemorrhaging so much money. We're still well above the 1965 mark, and I doubt we'll drop below it, but the trend has been downwards in inflation adjusted dollars. As we bring in less money, we also get treated more like normal employees. That means fewer kind words, more normal office space style frustrations, and a higher administrative burden.

Source: http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/11/1/181.full.pdf
 
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libertyyne

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Is there any particular reason why you think that? Computer science is exploding. It still hasn't been fully implemented in many, many fields. Just look at the pathetic state of EMR's.

Also, self-driving cars are on the way.

And the singularity hasn't even arrived yet!
I was being hyperbolic, obviously CS has a wonderful future ahead. But for the sake of argument ask any hardware person working at dell, intel, amd, cisco, HP what the golden age of CS was, they will undoubtedly lament of times past. The same argument of a bright future can be made for medicine, CRISPR, 3D organ Printing, Personalized DRugs, Genomics, minimally invasive procedures etc.
 

hungrybox

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I was being hyperbolic, obviously CS has a wonderful future ahead. But for the sake of argument ask any hardware person working at dell, intel, amd, cisco, HP what the golden age of CS was, they will undoubtedly lament of times past. The same argument of a bright future can be made for medicine, CRISPR, 3D organ Printing, Personalized DRugs, Genomics, minimally invasive procedures etc.

I'm still not convinced of the veracity of your argument. You're claiming that the golden age of CS is over, and your proof is "any hardware person working at dell, intel, amd, cisco, HP". Is that right?

For the record, hardware is also improving beyond what was imaginable. Virtual reality is in its infancy.
 

libertyyne

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I'm still not convinced of the veracity of your argument. You're claiming that the golden age of CS is over, and your proof is "any hardware person working at dell, intel, amd, cisco, HP". Is that right?

For the record, hardware is also improving beyond what was imaginable. Virtual reality is in its infancy.
Read the thread, its based off of the pre-med listening to physicans complaining, that is the equivalent of asking any hardware in Intel, AMD etc. Their jobs have been shed even recently. So yes, X86 computings golden age may have passed or may not have but ask any person working at those firms that are 30 year veterans and they will make similar lamentations as the MD in this case.
 

libertyyne

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There is data to back up the idea of a 'golden age' of medicine, at least in terms of salary. The 'golden age' began in 1965, with the creation of Mediciare, and peaked in 1990. Basically the government gave away so much money that physician salaries doubled in inflation adjusted dollars, and the respect/freedom/job satisfaction increased in parallel with the money, because it always does.

Since then its been normalizing as the government finally tried to stop hemorrhaging so much money. We're still well above the 1965 mark, and I doubt we'll drop below it, but the trend has been downwards in inflation adjusted dollars. As we bring in less money, we also get treated more like normal employees. That means fewer kind words, more normal office space style frustrations, and a higher administrative burden.

Source: http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/11/1/181.full.pdf
Where is the data for the past 26 years?
 

hungrybox

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Read the thread, its based off of the pre-med listening to physicans complaining, that is the equivalent of asking any hardware in Intel, AMD etc. Their jobs have been shed even recently. So yes, X86 computings golden age may have passed or may not have but ask any person working at those firms that are 30 year veterans and they will make similar lamentations as the MD in this case.

Right, but that's a very specific field in computing. Correct me if I'm wrong, but to me it seems like the OP is talking about a trend that he seems to believe pervades nearly every physician specialty.
 

libertyyne

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Right, but that's a very specific field in computing. Correct me if I'm wrong, but to me it seems like the OP is talking about a trend that he seems to believe pervades nearly every physician specialty.
Ops sample size was not any better.
 
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