Doctors Are Disrespected

Doctors’ Day was March 30th, as it is every year, and once again it went largely unnoticed.   The results of the poll below are very disturbing to me.  A sampling of over 300 doctors from around the country answered it at the entry entitled “Were You Recognized?”.  At least 40% were not!  I was one of those 40%.  I have seen a trend from a nice luncheon/event dwindle down to a trinket then to an email and now, well, nothing.   It is that TREND that scares and bothers me the most.  Why are we being disrespected by hospitals?  Without us there is no engine to run the machine.  They would make no money.  Is it because of the unholy matrimony of doctors now being employed by hospitals leading to the elimination of the need for them to work for our business?

Dale Carnegie once said, “The desire for a feeling of importance is one of the chief distinguishing differences between mankind and the animals.”  I know this recognition seems petty but in an era where doctors are burning out and quitting this job in record numbers I think it its should not be swept under the rug.   I find it ironic when hospital systems worry about “physician retention” yet fail to understand this simple point.

I ask you, my readers, to add a comment on why you think 40% of hospitals in this country failed to recognize their physicians on Doctors’ Day?  Do you think it was an oversight?  Was it that they just don’t care?  I, as well as others, await your thoughts.

Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  24 comments for “Doctors Are Disrespected

  1. Nancy
    April 12, 2012 at 9:21 am

    I don’t think that doctors are being targeted with disrespect. I think the whole medical field has become less respected. Society as a whole, lacks respect. People (most everywhere you look), have very little respect for each other. But doctors and nurses rarely get the thank you’s they deserve. We have catered patients to the point that they demand and expect the royal treatment, not just the best medical care. Really people, do you want us to save your asses or kiss them? Administrators don’t care about the doctors who do great work, they appreciate the doctors who get the best reviews from the patients. And John D. has a good point, almost all of our physicians at my hospital are hospital employees. Let’s just have Hospital Week and include a thank you for your hard work for all employees. Those smaller departments don’t have a budget to recognize each of their employees. Our Nursing, Social Services (who by the way get a Social Workers Month, not that anybody recognizes it either), Housekeeping, Medical Records,Transcription, PT, OT all do great work. And what about Administrators, what kind of thanks do they get? Hahahahaha….uh, I’d better go, I’m out of Chapstick.

  2. Mona Pierson
    April 12, 2012 at 1:45 am

    Maybe because the hospitals are the “boss” and the boss hasn’t learned that appreciated employees are better workers.

  3. Jeanne
    April 11, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    I’m a longtime MT, too, and I’m afraid I’ve come to expect nothing on our day (actually, a whole week)–even from my employer. Transcription has always been at the bottom of the totem pole (or downstairs next to the morgue) and the first line in budget cuts. We are now competing with people in India happy to work for the equivalent of $4/wk and making less money than ever for far more work (BTW, speech recognition pays least of all and generally sucks so badly that it takes four times the work to fix it all). I long ago learned to cringe as MT Appreciation Week rolls around because it just highlights the insult more than anything. Having seen some really great EMRs, I predict transcription is about to walk the plank anyway. Why pay someone in India to do our work when you can simply point and click to generate a canned encounter report AS you see the patient?

    I think part of the problem in these special days is that they’re not special at all. Have you seen the list of congressionally-sanctioned days? We’re competing with National Pancake Day and other far more important things, fer cryin’ out loud! Besides, when was the last time you saw someone advertise Doctor Appreciation Day? It’s not the kind of thing someone thinks of looking up on their own and keeps on the calendar to mark faithfully. I agree with the comment above–regardless of what we do, it means far more to have someone look you in the eye and express real gratitude.

    My account currently comprises a chain of hospitals way across the country in S. California and I might get any of 1300 dictators. Many are horrible and obviously give no thought to the fact there is a human being on the other end of that phone. They race so you can’t make out a word, they snarf Doritos as they speak, they belch, they converse with random people walking by, ignoring the fact we are paid by what we produce. Some can’t be bothered to get a frickin’ kleenex so they don’t have to slurp a wad of snot back up their nose every three words (no, really), and some are so incomprehensible you can’t imagine they are trusted near a real patient. . . However, a vast majority are very conscientious, especially ESLs (who know they can be hard to understand, so often take special care) and new residents (are they teaching dictation now?!) A few kind souls will usually close with a thank you for transcribing their report, especially if they’ve been disorganized and had to revise a lot. Some are wonderfully conversational and their compassion and affection for their patients really makes my day. For the most part, our funny, compassionate, and quirky dictators make our underappreciated efforts worthwhile. We MTs get really attached to our docs, even when so few seem aware of our presence.

    FWIW, here’s my shout out to all my favorites–and the rest of you I would probably love if I had to transcribe for you, too.

    Of course, I have just finished my degree to become a medical assistant and have no delusions that will bring me more appreciation, unless it happens because I will soon be in an office instead of neatly tucked away into easily-ignored cyberspace (most transcription is done via telecommuting now). Here’s hoping one of you good guys steps up to give me a chance as a new MA (soon–please!) After a decade chained to a keyboard, I suspect *every* day will be Doctor Appreciation Day for me.

    Hugs, Dr. Doug. <3

    • Doug Farrago
      April 11, 2012 at 8:21 pm

      Thank you. THat was very nice.

  4. Stephen Rockower, MD
    April 11, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    My 2 hospitals have a little luncheon and give us some kind of a gift (umbrella, gym bag, thumb drive, etc). No patients ever say anything. It’s the way of the future. You’re a replaceable cog in a big wheel.

  5. Joey
    April 11, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    We are interchangable parts. We can be replaced by an NP or PA. We are “providers”. It will only get worse. I have years of training and experience and I compete with midlevels.
    I don’t need Doctors’ day. I far more appreciate handshakes and “thank you”s from my many longstanding patients. Doug (aka King of Medicine) keep up the great work.

  6. MOMDR
    April 11, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    I guess I am one of the fortunate ones whose hospital had a catered evening event for doctors and their spouses on doctor’s day. Sad to say, though, less than 10% of our medical staff showed up. At one point there were more hospital administrators present than doctors. I think the apparent lack of recognition stems from the changing role of physicians. Many newer physicians see their position as a job that ends when they leave at 5:00 or the end of their shift. Many retiring physicians viewed medicine as a calling and their “job” did not have a begining or an end time. In many places family medicine is now restricted to an urgent care type practice and patients have lost the comfort of the doctor who is always there for them. I suspect that hospitals have noticed this too.

  7. robert gerstman
    April 11, 2012 at 9:58 am

    every single faceet connected with a hospital has a recognition day or week or month. physicians are least recognized in part because despite being employees the non-physicians cling to the myth that physicians are “living the good life” and as one nurse told me fifteen years ago “you (physicians) pay more in taxes than we (nurses) get in salary”. doctors should only expect to get a happy doctor’s day from other doctors who actually see patients, not the administrators and certainly not from anyone insubordinate to them. there’s no ‘national priest’s day, national rabbi’s day or national iman’s day” and since it’s been told that physicians are doing the lord’s work we are not alone in our lack of recognition

  8. George Burns
    April 11, 2012 at 9:35 am

    I feel that the “Doctor’s Day” is just a faccade like many of the other aspects of medicine these days. Little genuine interest; just for show.

  9. Marlene Sell
    April 11, 2012 at 9:29 am

    I think it is an epidemic in the country that employers simply no longer care for their employees. It isn’t just the doctors. I retired a month ago and my boss (a judge) didn’t even say goodbye. Even if he had said “Glad you’re leaving”, it would have been an acknowledgement of the many years I worked for him.

  10. Kingsley Sears
    April 11, 2012 at 9:22 am

    Somehow, the doctors whom I see project an air of separation that makes me feel that an expression of appreciation would be sluffed off.I once saw an appreciative patient kneel and kiss the hand of my doctor who had performed heart surgery on the man. The doctor seemed aloof, almost repulsed. There needs to be a receptiveness.

    • Doug Farrago
      April 11, 2012 at 9:29 am

      I do not know where you are from but I think you observation is of a small population of docs. What I have seen over the years is burnout and depression being mistaken as aloofness or non-caring. I think docs (LIKE ANY HUMAN) wants to feel appreciated….especially from their hospital employers.

      • April 11, 2012 at 9:58 am

        I don’t think that represents a small percentage of docs. Almost every doctor I have had projected this “I AM GOD, DON’T TALK TO ME I ALREADY KNOW” presence. Aloof, dispersonal. More so to staff than to patients, if that is possible, and I have worked in several hospitals. You are an aberration, Dr. Doug — an aberration I wish was my doctor.

        • Kimberly
          April 11, 2012 at 11:29 am

          I agree with Moss. I wish I had the Dr. that I had all the time I raised my kids. We had a relationship and now with the shifting of healthcare and moving for employment I find myself being questioned like I was drug shopping. I waited 7 weeks to see if my torn bicep would repair before I went in….sheesh!

        • Greg Salard
          April 11, 2012 at 1:50 pm

          If your doctor treats you like that, get another doctor! It is true that some doctors are arrogant. I just choose not be be associated with them. And as a Family Medicine doctor, I also choose not to refer my patients to them! There are a lot more good doctors out there than bad one. Don’t settle for the bad…

  11. John Difini
    April 11, 2012 at 9:10 am

    We got recognized by the county medical society Alliance (spouses) with a breakfast, and a card and gift umbrella (complete with company logo)from our hospital. Office staff gave us a luncheon. I think the reason why 40% of hospitals did not recognize DD is that so many physicians are now employed by them, and thus, docs are taken for granted, and do not have to be “courted” by them.

  12. steve
    April 11, 2012 at 8:51 am

    Hospital administrators are like the Honey Badger: they don’t give a shit.

    • Doug Farrago
      April 11, 2012 at 9:10 am

      Ok, now that is brilliant. Funny video and would be even a better parody. I need to work on this.

      • steve
        April 11, 2012 at 9:42 am

        I knew you’d get it, Doug.

    • April 11, 2012 at 9:58 am

      Note that college football’s “honey badger” underperformed in the Big Game.

      • Richard W. Mondak
        April 11, 2012 at 1:10 pm

        Badgers? Why all the talk about badgers? I don’t have no badgers…

        (Okay, everyone else can / will finish this…)

  13. Nae
    April 11, 2012 at 8:13 am

    Did you know there is a day when you are supposed to recognize your medical transcriptionist and the vital job he/she performs in healthcare documentation? It gets far less attention than doctor’s day I can tell you that for certain. Welcome to our unspoken, under-recognized world. When MTs point this day out to others in the healthcare world (hospital staff and doctors among the many we attempt to enlighten) usually we are told we are supposed to “be in it for love of the job, not pats on the back.” I can’t imagine many would have the to temerity to actually say that to a doctor, but I suspect that is what they are thinking.

    I know very well how it feels to have what you do for a living feel mighty under appreciated, so let me be among the first to tell you, happy belated doctor’s day! I darn sure appreciate you, if for no other reason than you have a wonderful sense of humor and without your voice creating that record your MT/speech editor would not have a job.

    Renee M. Priest, CMT

    • Doug Farrago
      April 11, 2012 at 9:09 am

      Thank you!

    • Demo Chic
      April 11, 2012 at 10:15 am

      So when is medical transcriptionist day? I didn’t know but I’m certainly going to add it. After listening to the absolute crap my colleagues dictate and knowing those unsung heroes in the HIM department clean it up, I want to celebrate.

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