Sunday, July 27, 2008

And Off Come the Shackles...

I really have no idea if anyone will wind up reading this. Honestly, I don't care. But I've found Medical Blogs to be a catharctic experience in my darkest of days, so if a disillusioned medical student/resident/hospital-employed primary care slave finds some solace in my words... fantastic. The pain of outpatient primary care wasn't something I could find an empathetic ear for. My friends were either not physicians (a good thing, by the way) or free to explore the lucrative subspecialist/shift-work fields in medicine. They weren't stupid enough to whore themselves out to their state for "underserved primary care" work, or to be born into a family that couldn't write a check for their medical education. Bastards.

Then I fell into a hospitalist position in a town desperate enough to take my state-owned slave-chains off, and snap on a shiny new pair (owned by the hospital, of course). But I'm okay with it because, presumably, gone are my days of outpatient indentured servitude. Goodbye to the countless hours of uncompensated call. Hasta la pasta to trying to field phonecalls from the ER and floor nurses while perpetually running behind on the always-late 40 patients scheduled in clinic. I don't have to be forced to be a bad doctor anymore.

I feel like I've been escorted off the battlefield just as the Medicare airstrike is about to obliterate the remaining stockpiles of food that already malnourish American primary care. Granted, once they've completed their destruction of outpatient medicine, I think they'll focus their full efforts on my new-found refuge. At which point I'm sure our government will put Medicare/Medicaid out of its misery and replace it with something equally inadequate. But whatever.

For now, I can spend an appropriate amount of time with my patients, be relatively shielded from the mountains of bullshit paperwork from corporate/government healthcare, get paid a somewhere-close-to-respectable wage for my expertise, and still be allowed to live a chunk of my life off the pager. It only took slightly over a decade of paying my dues to get here.

I suppose I see this blog as more of a journal. Am I going to be as happy to be a hospitalist in 3 years? Or will I find other ways to be unhappy? Is it just the nature of being in healthcare? Is it just my nature? Or have I finally found a way to be happy practicing medicine for the foreseeable future? I have no idea.

I guess I'm about to find out.