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Forget ‘Doctors Day’. Here’s how to really appreciate doctors




Forget 'Doctors Day'.  Here's how to really appreciate doctors

You’d be forgiven if you didn’t make time to celebrate Doctors’ Day on March 30. Admittedly, it is not the most important holiday on the national calendar. For my part, I heard from some friends and colleagues, and we all expressed our appreciation for the well wishes and cards.

And then we discussed what it’s really like to practice medicine today.

Which leads me to say that it’s time to focus less on “days” and more on showing consistent appreciation for the work of healthcare professionals – skilled professionals who work in the service of others.

I’m not the only one. Several people told me that while they appreciate trinkets with company logos, greeting cards, and even gift certificates, they simultaneously feel that the existence of these “days” provides organizations with absolution for their working conditions.

Doctors in particular seemed to express this feeling. Maybe that’s not surprising. The concept of burnout among doctors has been much discussed. Various reasons for this have been suggested, but I still believe the main cause is invisibility. That is, in an industry increasingly dominated by large, vertically integrated companies, physicians feel small and powerless. This idea is supported by some interesting data: almost 75% of physicians are employed by a hospital, healthcare system, or corporate entity. At the same time, research which shows that burnout rates are lower among doctors who have their own practice.

No wonder, then, that the cheery Doctors Day notes ring hollow in the context of broader professional devaluation.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are five steps that can help hospitals, health care systems, and other entities that employ physicians and other health care professionals revalue their work and give it the prominence it deserves.

1) Welcome and invite clinical perspectives into organizational decision making. People who work in healthcare know that too often they are run by career administrators without medical degrees. That in itself is not a bad thing. I have worked with and mentored several talented administrative leaders without clinical training who were experts at putting patient care at the center of their organization’s priorities. On the other side someone he knew study shows that “Hospitals in physician-led hospital systems had higher quality ratings across all specialties.” Too many healthcare systems treat clinical leaders as employees to be managed rather than as courageous thinkers who bring expertise to the table. Involving them in decision-making at the highest level goes a long way in showing them that they are not just cogs in an impersonal system.

2) Compensate physicians fairly at market wages for their role and level of expertise. Let’s be honest: doctors aren’t starving. And yet that doesn’t mean they’re always rewarded fairly for their work, especially when you take their training and expertise into account.

People might be surprised to know that 38% of doctors participation they are dissatisfied with their salaries and 52% say that doctors’ pay itself is not fair or equitable.

Why do doctors feel undervalued? They say they are not compensated for the time they spend with patients, especially those whose conditions they manage outside of office visits. They also note that colleagues in other industries without the same level of education, training and seniority often earn more than them. They also point out that doctors’ pay usually doesn’t keep pace with inflation. To be clear, there is no healthcare without physicians, and that applies as much to a primary care physician in a major healthcare system as it does to a superstar surgeon with a half-dozen fellowships to her name. Both need to be rewarded for their value, and a simple way to do that is to pay them what they’re worth.

3. End labor arbitrage practices that replace doctors with cheaper, less skilled professionals. If you recently made an appointment with your doctor, you may be surprised to find that you were being assessed and treated by someone else. In the face of rising wages, labor shortages and increased demand – especially after the pandemic, when many people foregone treatment – ​​many healthcare companies have turned to replacing physicians with other, lower-paid doctors. Sometimes this makes sense. For example, much of the work done today by RNs would have been done by physicians 25 years ago, and we have seen no negative impact on patient health.

However, healthcare is defined as much by complexity as anything else, a fact that many systems ignore when they place patient care under the purview of individuals with varying levels of professional training, and without clearly defined parameters that delineate where and how patients can best are served. apart from the costs of course. In these cases, patient care suffers, physicians are demeaned and their value is devalued. Ensuring that complex cases are handled by highly trained people prepared to tackle the complexity – that is, physicians – is one way to restore the profession’s dignity and improve outcomes.

4. Recognize and recognize the moral tensions that healthcare professionals live with on a daily basis.

Is end-of-life care suitable for the patient?

Should expensive treatment be attempted when cheaper options have been exhausted?

Should I perform diagnostic treatment on an elderly patient?

How do I tell my patient’s family that the diagnosis is terminal?

These questions represent a small portion of the difficult choices healthcare professionals face every day. And yet, especially within large healthcare systems, there is an assumption that a set of protocols is sufficient to navigate these thorny issues. I am not calling for healthcare systems to make decisions for healthcare workers; but I call on them to recognize the moral and ethical complexity inherent in the practice of health care, and to honor the people whose job it is to make difficult decisions by repeatedly acknowledging both the difficulty of making those decisions recognize as the sheer courage it takes to make these decisions. confront them.

5. Ensure that all healthcare workers have access to excellent healthcare facilities. Many companies struggle to determine how much of the health care costs their employees should bear. Healthcare companies should not be among them. It makes little moral sense to price your own employees for your life-saving product. It also doesn’t make economic sense, as healthy employees are more productive and therefore likely to achieve better results.

Furthermore, making their core products affordable for the people they employ is an obvious way for employers to show their appreciation for their work. To burden them with high costs is as misleading as it is insulting.

The next few days

I’m not a curmudgeon. I love celebrating colleagues and being celebrated by them. And I admit that special “days” have a place in the appreciation of physicians of all kinds. Nevertheless, I can’t tell you how many people quietly complain that “days” often seem like a cynical distraction from some of the larger problems facing the health care professions.

It is these problems that we need to solve before we no longer have to buy greeting cards.