My dear medical friends,
Your industry is a nightmare administratively. I’m reading piece after piece about administrators and managers scheduling nurses sometimes up to six 12-hour shifts a week, understaffing the floors, and then telling them that even though there aren’t enough staff to take breaks and still manage the safety of the patients, they still have to clock out for their law-mandated 30-minute break. They are required to clock out before they’ve finished their tasks because they are allowed only so many hours of work, so they clock out and then finish their tasks because the tasks still have to be done. Doctors find themselves micromanaged in even the minutiae of their schedules, as if people who spent a decade learning their profession cannot be trusted to get their jobs done. Not only are they micromanaged, but they are also overtasked, just like their RNs and other medical staff. I’m reading about people taking this kind of thing for decades. And they take it—they take it until they crack—because the well being of their patients is Priority One.
If I don’t stay, the patients won’t get the quality of care they deserve.
I wanted to make sure my patients were safe, and that was my number one concern.
I didn’t want safety to be a concern. I care about the patients.
So let me be blunt.
The altruistic aspect of your profession is being used both as cover and as a bludgeon against you. All of the political/administrative skullduggery that happens in every field gets the halo of “but we’re doing it for OTHERS.” And the workers get used and abused and overworked, but if you complain, you can be guilted precisely because you tend toward the altruistic in the first place.
Not all medical administrators are that way, of course, but even they fall into the altruism trap. And the ones who are that way appear to be a special sort of nasty.
The medical profession: where they weaponize your own virtue against you.
And seriously, my medical profession friends, you are so incredibly vulnerable to this that it hurts. It’s nature and nurture and training combining into a torturous combination.
I’m gonna ask you to do the one thing you’ve been trained against. The one thing that goes against your very nature. stand up for yourselves.
This is not another reason to feel guilty, another addition to your monumentally long to-do list. This is a reminder of how important you are.
You are the mother on the airplane who must put her own oxygen mask on before she puts one on her child. You are valuable. You are just as important as your patients. We need you functional and whole.
We do not show that enough, especially in our insanely complex healthcare system that values process over people. We don’t have enough of you—of all things, we limit the number of residencies even as our population grows—and we ignore that this is the crux of our problem. So you work back-to-back twelves and do your paperwork at home.
Incentivize us to stop now, before you wear out, before you are irrevocably broken.
Again, this isn’t a guilt trip. It’s a plea. Tell your friends and family about your working conditions so that they can support you in improving them. Encourage your coworkers. Heck, go to HR when admin does the whole wink-wink, nudge-nudge on hours and clocking out. Don’t suffer in silence. Say no when you can.
I’ll get off my soapbox now and let you get back to your patients.
Update: Welcome, Instapundit readers.
I appreciate all the comments, folks. They add depth to my post.
For a great book on how we got to this point in health care, I highly recommend The High Price of Socialized Medicine by Dr. James Brook.