It's Not About You

During B-School, I was sitting in Operations class.  Professor Dobson had written on the chalkboard a diagram showing Profit = Revenue - Expense.  Revenue consisted of various components as well as expenses.

The net goal of any business is profit, Professor Dobson, explained. In my nativitiy, I questioned this statement.  The goal of a business is not only profit, but providing some sort of value.  For example, hospitals only goal is not profit, but healing patients.

But why do we heal patients, he asked? 

I thought to myself, "To make money. To grow. To heal more patients. To stay in business."

The traditional business model of hospitals is based upon the focus on profits. At the end of the day, the first goal of a hospital is to make money. If a hospital runs out of money for a sustained period of time, it must close. 

The second goal of a hospital is to care for patients. That's why it's there.

Now several rungs down the ladder of priority is to keep doctors happy.  I believe this is the reason that there is increasing burnout and unhappiness amongst physicians.

For example, documentation using EMRs.  Most are cumbersome and take a while to use.  I typically spend quite a bit of time charting after my shift, as do other healthcare providers.  But the ironic part is that no one gets paid for documenting.  Sure, we can document during the workday, but there is an onslaught of patients that are eager to be seen.

What if providers got paid for documenting? Would the software be smoother and easier to use?  YES!

Sorry to say this, but as a physician you are expendable. You are replaceable. Especially physicians who are in radiology, anesthesia, and emergency medicine without an established group of patients.

It's easier for the healthcare system to wear you down until you are at the wits end, and then hire another one.  It's not just healthcare. It happens in any position where one can be easily replaced with another person. 

You are a part of the healthcare machine. The system sees you as replaceable.  And we are replaceable. For example, if I were to die in a car accident, my position would be readily filled within a matter of days to weeks.

Okay, so knowing that you are not the first priority for the healthcare system, what can you do?

1) Accept this situation. The medical system never existed for us. It exists for the patient.  We care for the patient and make sacrifices for the patients. It's for the greater good.

So then who is responsible for taking care of the doctors?  You are.

2) Take responsibility.  It's no one else's job but yours. With this knowledge, you can take responsibility for your burnout. This means saying no. This means setting boundaries on your time. This means taking your vacations. This means making it to your doctors appointments. This means stepping up in medical leadership at local, state, and national levels. 

This means you are empowered.