Doesn’t it seem that every time you turn around you read something negative in the paper or see something bad about us doctors on TV? Doesn’t every surgeon operate on the wrong leg? Aren’t all doctors in cahoots with the pharmaceutical industry? Doesn’t every doctor make life-threatening misdiagnoses each day? While we do have organizations that supposedly represent us (not), nowhere do I see enough of our peers speaking out against doctor bashing. The truth is that we are horrible at sticking up for ourselves.
Unfortunately, physicians are easy targets. It is so politically incorrect these days to pick on many groups. Even terrorists and organized crime get a pass, but physicians are fair game. I am not sure why that is. Maybe because people still see doctors as middle-age, rich, white men. In reality, half of doctors are women. The diversity of nationalities and races involved in our profession continues to grow to the point that you can’t truly stereotype a physician. What is accurate is that we are not a very political bunch. We tend to sit back and take our lumps instead of fighting back. Some would call this spineless and they may be right. I believe this occurs not because we are lazy but because we are too busy doing the job of taking care of patients.
Being a doctor is a noble profession. I challenge the CEOs of some managed care companies making $19 million a year to say the same about themselves. We are respected because we directly help people. What we do for a living truly matters. This is not to knock other professions (except lawyers, of course) but just to point out the importance of our job. We are the men, the women, the old and the young who work very hard trying to heal or save lives. We are the Black, the White, the Hispanic, and so many more who have sacrificed years of our lives in the journey to get to stand in front a patient and say, “How can I help?”
I bring this topic up because when the media jumps on the doctor bashing bandwagon it adds to the ever-increasing problem of burnout. The pressures of lawsuits, technology, new coding changes, electronic medical records, moronic administrators, absurd legislators and greedy managed care companies have made it difficult for us to keep our chins up. All this adds up to doctors caring less about their jobs and resulting in an exodus of physicians from our profession. In my heart I believe that physicians are still the good guys. We just need to stand up for ourselves more. This brings me to the following joke.
A reporter goes to interview the oldest man in America who lives in a nearby small town. He is 108 years old. When he gets to the gentleman’s home he sees him on the porch with a beautiful 24 year-old woman. In addition there are tons of relatives around of all ages, including a bunch of little kids running around.
The reporter introduces himself and asks him the relationship of the young woman next to him.
“This is my wife!”
“I’m sorry. Really? And these kids?”
“Hmmm. But…I mean…how?”
“Well, every night four of my older sons who live around here come over and set me on top of her. Ever morning, eight of my older sons come back and lift me off her”.
The young woman shakes her head in acknowledgement.
“But….okay…well, why do you only need four sons at night to set you on top of her but eight sons to lift you off in the morning”
The old man makes a fist and violently shakes it in the air and states, “because I fights’em!!”
First of all, I love this joke, stupid as it may be. To me, this joke is a metaphor for what we need to do as physicians. Every time we get bashed by the Medical Axis of Evil (Big Pharma, Lawyers, Insurance Companies), we need to FIGHTS’EM!!!! Every time we get bashed by a moronic bunch of bureaucrats, we need to FIGHTS’EM!!!! Every time we get bashed by the media, we need to FIGHTS’EM!!!!