This is an email subject line from a doctor. Letter published with permission.
I have become so disillusioned with medicine. I do not know who to talk to any more or what to do with my life.
I work one week a month in the ICU. I spend the other three weeks of the month in an outpatient clinic. This is a nightmare. The Electronic Health Record they have in place makes me so slow and inefficient I want to scream when I come to work everyday. They want me to see new complex pulmonary consult patients on the hour every hour. Frequently, just to review their imaging, labs and special studies takes 15 minutes before I even walk in the door to meet the patient. Today I saw 8 new patients in eight hours. I need at least 60 minutes per new patient and a buffer of at least 15 minutes between patients to complete my EHR charting. I am so frustrated and just want to walk away but where does one go. It is the same everywhere now in the USA. EHR’s and conveyer belt, output-driven medicine. I feel trapped and betrayed. I did not go to medical school to sit on my butt for four to six hours a day doing data entry in a computer.
I feel so deflated and trapped. Have to work to pay for the kid’s college and have health insurance for them and yet there is no joy in the work anymore. I find the hospital and the ICU more stimulating but the pace and the hours are brutal. Therefore, I decided to give this more lifestyle friendly version a try. My hours are meant to be 8am to 5pm but I arrive at 7am and leave at 7pm to try and keep up with the EHR communication method and clinical charting. I get every Monday off but it does not make up for the frustration of the four days I do spend in the office.
I know I am being extremely negative and I can not seem to see the forest from the trees. I have lost my joy and my soul is sad. I never used to feel this way about medicine.
Any suggestions Wise One ??
Wise One to Sad Soul:
1) You are not alone! You’re having a normal reaction to an inhumane health care system—a sad soul.
2) People don’t complain about things they can’t fix (like gravity). You complain about EHRs and assembly-line medicine precisely because you know there’s a better way.
3) The real problem is—us. Yes. Doctors are to blame. We’ve relinquished control of our profession to those with divergent ethics. We’ve allowed ourselves to be abused en masse. You can’t be a victim and a healer. Choose one.
4) YOU can free yourself from the paper chains.
5) A dysfunctional medical system can only exist on the backs of disempowered physicians—the precursor of which is abused medical students.
6) Medicine is an apprenticeship profession. Liberate yourself and you liberate the next generation of doctors.
7) If you do not know who to talk to any more or what to do with your life, start hanging with happy docs. Can’t find happy doctors? Click here to meet some.
P.S. Anyone else with advice for sad doctor? Please leave your comments below.
Pamela Wible, M.D., is a pioneer in the Ideal Medical Care Movement. She has helped hundreds of physicians reclaim their happiness and their careers at her physician teleseminars & retreats. Dr. Wible has been awarded the 2015 Women Leader in Medicine.