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In defense of the MDs

June 28, 2011

It’s hot and humid today, so my mood hasn’t been the best. Throw in a lot of negativity and hate spewing in discussions with others about doctors and health care providers in general and you’ve got yourself a rant. I know a lot of patients are going to disagree with me and this is going to flat out piss quite a few people off, but I really don’t care. So here we go:

Your doctor is not out to get you.

There are two things you are guaranteed to find in patient support groups: the words “big pharma” and “the doctors just want my money”. No, they don’t. If doctors just wanted your money, they’d become car salesmen. Keeping you sick is not in their best interest, and it’s not in the best interest of the pharmaceutical companies either (will do a separate “big pharma” rant later). Does it make sense to spend a significant chunk of your life cramming a rediculous amount of information into your head and dropping a HUGE amount of cash in order to get that information? No. Not all doctors come from priviliged families that can afford to pay for their entire education. The amount of student loan debt that any health care provider is drowning in after graduation is absurd, and it does cost a significant amount of money to maintain a license and run a practice. Doctors do not get staff, an office, and supplies for free. Open up a personal business and hire a bunch of staff that are educated enough to qualify for much more than minimum wage while swimming in debt from your own education and see how much time you can afford to spend on a golf course. Anyone that goes into a career in healthcare strictly for the money will be very disappointed very quickly and will not last long in that field, trust me.

Are some doctors assholes? You’re damn straight. I’ve encountered quite a few of them myself. I’ve also had the privilage to be treated by some unbelievably intelligent, genuinely caring, shining examples of human beings. It really pisses me off when I see patients ramble on about how anyone that works in healthcare is a money grubbing, sociopathic bastard. It pisses me off both as a patient and as a health care worker. Just to take a fairly short course (only 1 year) in order to be qualified enough to help patients take showers and get dressed, I dropped over $6000. If I was in it for money, I would work in nursing homes, but I don’t (support workers in home health in this area barely make over minimum wage). Health care is my game because it is more emotionally satisfying for me and I find a lot of joy in the final visit when the patient is well enough to no longer need my care because I am happy for them. I have cried over the deaths of patients and clipped their obituaries from the newspaper because I cared about them as people not as a paycheque. I’m going to be overwhelmed with debt by the time I finish nursing school, and given my health I may not be able to work long enough in that field to pay off the debt. Does it make sense financially? Hell no. But I don’t care about that. I would gladly scrape by and earn my way by caring for others than get rich helping no one.

Do health care workers get burnt out? Oooo you’d better believe it. Too many people underestimate the insanely huge emotional toll working in healthcare has on caregivers. “Oh but my family doctor is a burnt out prick and all he/she does is treat sniffles” you may be thinking. Ummm, NO. Family doctors do handle patients with chronic and terminal illnesses. They have to separate themselves emotionally from your situation because if they don’t they will be overcome with FEAR. “If my patient can catch horribledeathpainitis, then so can I and so can my loved ones.” Dealing with illness all day screws with your head if you can’t separate yourself from it emotionally.

And really? It makes sense for them to make sure you stay sick? Really think about that. Does it make sense for your mechanic to bust up your engine when you bring your car in for an oil change? No. Why? Because you’ll catch on that hey, this guy isn’t doing his job and is screwing me out of money, I’m going to go to someone else. By intentionally keeping a patient sick, the doctor is risking losing that patient and is just making more work for themselves (trust me, they’re busy enough). More time spent treating you is less time they have with their families. Yes, I realize some doctors intentionally bill incorrectly to get a few extra bucks. Yes, I realize a few doctors take bribes from drug companies to prescribe their medications. Is this as rampant as you think it is? NO.

Doctors are human beings. It is not possible for one doctor to know absolutely everything about medicine. If that was so, there wouldn’t be specialties in medicine. Not being able to immediately diagnose you does not mean that doctor is incompetent.

What else….a doctor refusing to prescribe you a drug is not a sign that the doctor is out to get you; it’s a sign that the doctor is looking out for you. You do not have the same access to information and current research that your doctor does. They also don’t have to deal with so many one-sided arguments and dramatized, censored, and even flat out false “patient” testimonials in regards to certain treatments. Just because 5 people you found on the internet claim that 2 drops of essential oil from a rare berry only found growing in the dung of tibetan yaks doesn’t mean that those 5 people are being honest or that it’s not all in their heads (it’s called the placebo effect, look it up). There is a reason why drugs and treatments need to go through trials before they are approved, and no that reason is not to keep you sick so they can earn more money writing up prescriptions for other treatments. It’s to make sure those drugs and treatments won’t kill you or make you sicker in the long run.

I completely understand being frustrated with a doctor that is not quite doing their job or not giving you what you want, I’ve been there (hell, I refer to my old neurologist on this blog as “Dr. Quack” for crying out loud). But that does not mean that he was lacking in my testing and treatment so he could make more money. He stood to gain nothing by not treating me, and lost me as a patient. If he had done testing that was obviously needed and treated me, I would have stayed with that doctor. He would have gained by helping me stay healthy. But being frustrated with a doctor and taking it out on everyone with an MD after their name is unacceptable. There is a big double standard here; it’s perfectly acceptable for patients to claim that doctors are part of a huge conspiracy to keep people sick so they can make more money, but patients go into a shitfit if they hear a doctor paint patients with the same kind of broad brush.

Your doctor went into their profession to fix whatever is wrong with you. Being unnecessarily combative will not help your situation. There is a difference between advocating for yourself when the need arises and just flat out being a prejudiced ass.

For your sake and your doctors, drop your doctor discrimination at the door when you go in for your next visit. The only way you’re going to get better is to learn to play with others.


***NOTE: This entry is not directed any anyone. I’m merely frustrated, insulted, and too damn warm and it’s spoiling my mood. If you disagree or agree, I don’t care. Feel free to comment if you want further clarification or wish to debate. Be forewarned: I do enjoy a good debate and I’m stubborn so I my opinion will not sway.


From → Journal

One Comment
  1. Amen. Well said.

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