The Two Sides of a Doctor’s Life We Need to Understand

Abhinav Shashank
Fri 13 July 2018

“Medicine, for me, has always been a calling as well as a privilege.” – Carol Bradford MD, Executive vice dean for academic affairs at Michigan Medicine and the Charles J. Krause, M.D., Collegiate Professor of Otolaryngology

The quest to become a community healer begins with passion. A dream fueled by mission-driven spirit, committed to creating a positive impact on the lives of many. It’s a picture painted in the mind of a child which later turns into an opportunity to care for millions, inspiration that builds trust, and most importantly more time together for thousands of families.

But there are two sides to the story of a doctor.

And people need to understand the doctors

There is a side to a doctor’s story which is personal. This side is fulfilling; it reminds them every day why they love their profession. Then there is another side; the impersonal side. This side is the part where a doctor is frustrated, and it is possibly the biggest threat to the future of healthcare.

The clinical side of practicing as a professional doctor

Even today, becoming a doctor is probably the hardest thing to do. It requires intense schooling, constant training, and an altruistic spirit combined with tenacity and patience. And they love this part. They would happily spend their time exploring the mysteries of health sciences and unlocking the medical secrets.

The intimate nature of trust between a doctor and a patient needs to be preserved

They would easily build the confidence to pick up a scalpel and cut open a body. They would insert scopes and remove damaged tissue. Do everything that is needed to remove a disease.

But here is the beauty of it, you would want them to do this. You would trust your life with them. They earn this with their title of ‘doctor.’

Physicians have the privilege to ask you a deeply personal question, and patients would tell them willingly.

They are also worried about the well being of the patients as much as they are happy about making some healthy. They would have sleepless nights over such fears, but at the end of the day, they would be happy about it.

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The clerical side of practicing as a professional doctor

The clinical side of medicine is fulfilling, but it’s the clerical side of practice which could be lamenting to a doctor. Almost half the day of a doctor could go into clerical and administrative work: completing out claims forms, meeting the complex coding requirements, and managing truckload of data along with negotiations with every stakeholder involved.

This adds to the frustration. Rightly so, as it wasn’t supposed to be this way. I mean you wouldn’t probably face this much back-office to front-office navigation in any other industry in the world.

A patient would keep on dealing with forms and while the physician spends hours in fishing them out.

Healthcare needs innovation. And real innovation needs to be a bottom-up approach.

First, we need to do empower the physicians. We can’t let the physicians wear out because of a burden which can be dealt with smart innovation. Today, doctors don’t need to be doing administrative tasks. They need to be taking care of patients, and for that, they need just contextual information.

Sir William Osler said, “The good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has the disease.” The great physician understands the patient and the context of that patient’s illness.

This is where we need to provide the tools to physicians that can deliver just the contextual information at the point of care and nothing else.

We need to encourage patients to lead healthier lives and physicians to promote healthy living. It is not the long hours physicians spend on patient demands; it’s the avoidable hours that is taking away the satisfaction of this profession.

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