The road less traveled

There’s a very nice Perspectives piece at NEJM today. I fear that it will be behind a paywall, which is tragic, because the people who need to read it most likely don’t subscribe to NEJM:

I worry that the primary care physician is a dying breed. Though it was once considered the noblest profession, U.S. medical students today believe the work is too hard, the hours too long, the pay too low. So they’re choosing to hit the “ROAD” — the high-paying specialties of radiology, ophthalmology, anesthesia, and dermatology.

But if you think being a primary care doctor is hard, meet Mary. Not many people have it harder than Mary. She always leaps to mind when I consider how our health care system fails our patients — and why I chose primary care. I’m Mary’s doctor, and though I care deeply about her, seeing her name on my schedule evokes mixed feelings: irritation that I’ll be an hour behind schedule the rest of the day; trepidation over the 50-50 chance she’ll need to be admitted, disrupting my busy day; and fear about intractable social problems.

The problems that Dr. Feingold faces with Mary are specific and rare, but the difficulties docs can face in providing patient care are broad and common. And, on a personal note, imagine how much harder things if you were trying to care for Mary’s child. This isn’t meant as a complaint, nor is it said with any bitterness; as Dr. Feingold notes, we chose these paths, and we continue to walk them gladly.


(h/t Austin, from an undisclosed location)

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