This is not just a question of career choice---consumers will be affected greatly by this shortage. If you think there’s a long wait for an appointment now, it could be nothing compared with 15 years down the road. The three co-authors of Will the Last Physician in America Please Turn Off the Lights, all from the physician staffing firm of Merritt, Hawkins and Associates, say the wait will jump to three to four months to see a doctor for a non-emergency, and a routine doctor’s visit will cost two to three times what it does now—whether you are insured or not, they say.
I have a lot of respect for Merritt and Hawkins. They are uniquely in touch with physicians’ attitudes and working conditions. But you don’t need data from Merritt and Hawkins to know that what Weiss says is true. The shortage of doctors, particularly primary care, touches all of us.
Although all doctors realize the increasing frustrations of the profession, medical blog reactions have been somewhat more optimistic:
DB’s Med Rants
The Blog that Ate Manhattan
My take? I can’t see myself doing anything else. I love medicine. It is said that one of my medical school mentors was quite wealthy and worked for the university, at his own insistence, for a dollar a year. He’d say to his students “You should love medicine so much that if you were independently wealthy you would be willing to pay for the privilege of being a doctor.” I sometimes feel that way!
Nobody goes into medicine primarily to get rich. Perhaps a few consider it just a job. Most appreciate the professional rewards. For me the issue is not the profession of medicine; it’s the baggage. I love medicine but I hate the baggage. The baggage is growing and choking off the professional rewards. For many doctors, even the ones in the profession for the “right” reasons, the baggage has become unbearable.
Wanna be a doctor? Think long and hard, and count the emotional cost.