PJ Media

“I love being a doctor but I hate practicing medicine”

a href=”http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/17/health/views/17essa.html?_r=1oref=slogin”This emNew York Times /emarticle on doctors’ frustrations /awith their profession couldn’t have come out at a more appropriate time. Although I am a psychologist, I do know how these doctors feel. Since I am in private practice, I handle all of my own paperwork for Medicare, TennCare and other various insurance companies and have nearly lost my mind with the mind-boggling paperwork. I spent the morning on the phone trying to track down lost checks, trying to figure out why I wasn’t paid the right amount for certain services (too little, of course) and finally, how I could get off insurance panels altogether because I have come to the point of not caring anymore. br /br /What struck me about the article is how most of the doctors mentioned are in their late thirties to early forties. I became frustrated around 37 when I realized that I did not really have the time or energy to chase down payments, beg for authorization and take pay reductions everytime managed care or Medicare decided to cut payments. Now it looks like there will be a a href=”http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/17/health/views/17essa.html?_r=1oref=slogin”10.6% cut in Medicare /aon July 1st which has caused many providers to decide not to take it, but I digress. My real point is that by the time you have been in the field for some time, have family responsibilities and understand the realities of the “helping profession” you are now stuck in, you finally realize you may need help yourself.br /br /And it is not just about money, it is the frustration of paperwork and the feeling that you can never get everything done. Many of us who are in healthcare are perfectionists or a bit compulsive. One has to be to a certain degree because people’s lives and health are at stake. One doctor in the emTimes/em article sums up the problem:br /br /blockquoteFor me it’s an endless amount of work that I can never get through to do it properly,” said Dr. Jeffrey Freilich, 38, a primary-care physician on Long Island. “I’m a bit compulsive. As an internist, I have to worry about working up so many conditions — anemia, thyroid problems and so forth. There is no time to do it all in a day.br /br /“On top of all that, there are all the colonoscopies and mammograms you have to arrange, and all the time on the phone getting preauthorizations. Then you have to track the patient down. And none of it is reimbursed.”/blockquotebr /br /And while for me, it is evaluations and therapy rather than colonoscopies and mammograms, the frustration is the same. Every year I work a little less in my field and turn to other areas to earn a living. But it makes me sad that the field I spent 11 years training for is not the same one I thought I signed up for, and I don’t see it getting better. It is disheartening and makes me sad but other than quit, I don’t know what else to do.br /br /Update: Shrinkwrapped, it seems, a href=”http://shrinkwrapped.blogs.com/blog/2008/06/government-run.html”is also having problems /awith Medicare: “As of the end of December, 2008, there will be one less Doctor participating in Medicare. I doubt I am alone in my disgust and annoyance.” No, Shrinkwrapped, I doubt you are alone.