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.