Doctors disturbed by changes
What Am I Worth?
No One Seems To Know.
"This country needs a health plan like the one in Canada and England. I believe that our Doctors are fighting such a plan because the government would determine their fees, not to mention the hospital costs." A Letter to the Editor, my local newspaper.
Doctors make too much money, I've been told. Well don't they? I'm not sure and how could I know any way. Most people, even Doctors, don't discuss their incomes, and it isn't considered polite to ask. I feel that way, don't you?
Even so, magazines, newspapers and the other media tell people what I make. Where do they get those numbers? They're not correct, but my patients and even some of my colleagues think they are.
An anger is growing amongst us, I can feel it.
Well, how much should a Doctor make? What's it worth to go through all those years of school and then the training necessary to become a Doctor? I don't know and I don't know that anyone ever figured it out. Nevertheless, it's accepted by many that I make too much and it's high time that something be done about it.
My fees are being reduced and I see no end to it. That's what bothers me the most, if no one is sure what I'm worth, then who'd know where to stop, before we destroy the system that produced the greatest health care the world has ever known.
I've wondered. Is the public aware of how demanding a career in medicine can be? Do they realize that once we enter the profession, we accept the responsibility for life long learning and commitment to life long service? Do they know that during all of those years our personal needs must remain secondary to these commitments, to the demands of those who choose us to be their physician?
Can they know that in the beginning our wives, husbands and children are proud, patient and understanding. Later, these feelings can give way to anger and frustration, the result of repeated personal and social disappointments, the seemingly endless loneliness. The family's ego structure can be starving for nourishment while our lives are taken up with the needs of our patients.
Our families may disintegrate. Then, as we grow older, the ability and the willingness to be always correct and forever available becomes difficult to sustain. Guilt may follow. If so, mental depression, divorce, suicide, drugs or alcohol abuse can result.
When this happens, help for the healer in need may be limited, while criticism for those of us who falter, abounds.
So, I ask again:
What am I worth?
No one seems to know and I've
become afraid. Because,
Once they saw me as a God, and
now, I'm not sure. Perhaps...
I should have warned them.
Vincent W Cangello, MD