Altruism by Ted Bacharach MD (retired)

Altruism: A great idea and a great word. Altruism is certainly a needed basic sentiment on the part of their members, on which all religions rely. Once upon a time physicians were quite successful and could afford altruism often at considerable cost and sacrifice. In our present environment the once altruistic physician has to be more greedy if he or she is to be able to survive. Curtailing the altruism that may have motivated new members of our profession starts in the medical school where tuition and the need to incur debt make the realization that giving anything away is not really possible.
In today’s environment every once in a while, physicians volunteer to provide some type of free service to their community. These efforts are often thwarted by the lack of space that can be offered to accomplish this and little encouragement. Many physicians still retain some altruistic ideas but they are not encouraged in our present environment, so we might as well be greedy and give nothing away, which is how most of the population views physicians anyway.

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] 

  1 comment for “Altruism by Ted Bacharach MD (retired)

  1. Pat
    June 12, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    Altruism: “The belief in or practice of disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others.”

    Ted, you noted that once physicians “could afford altruism”, but herein is the problem. Physicians were NEVER truly selfless, any more thany anyone else is, and it was to their, and their patient’s great harm, that they preteneded otherwise. If a doctor did something for free, or participated in a charity case, he still received the personal satisfaction, or well wishes from the community for his work. It was not for “free.” But once institutionalized, the philosophy of altruism became manifest in large government care programs that paid doctors, removing any charitable value yet allowing our duplicitous profession to rationalize ourselves as “charitable”, and consigning the providers to defend programs that ultimately dehumanized both themselves and their clients.

    No Ted, I respectfully disagree that there was ever any value to a mode of thinking that denied the self; rather, I argue that when physicians were properly aware and concerned for themselves as autonomous professionals seeking their own multi-faceted rewards for their legitimate efforts, they were at their best. It has been my observation and experience that only those doctors who recognized their own value as individuals can then recognize that value in their patients. No sir, I think that there has been nothing great about the word or works of altruism.

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