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The Gift Of Being A Doctor: “What Are You Going To Do With It?”

I’m going to do something unusual: Reprint in its entirety a commentary from a fourth-year medical student, Jonathan. He posted it in response to comments from other readers to my blog about Dr. Berwick’s commencement address to his daughter’s medical school class.

I tweeted about Jonathan’s post, calling it a needed voice of idealism at a cynical time. This is what Jonathan had to say to his physician colleagues:

“To begin, I am a fourth-year medical student going into primary care and this directly applies to me. We have two options when reading [Dr. Berwick's] address. We can take, in my opinion, the weak road or the strong road. Our new generation, as well as the one that raised us, is one of apathy and selfishness. We are only concerned about how changes affect us. We have lost the sacrifice and the consideration of our patients and fellow staff. This address, no matter how hard your heart may be, springs up a humanism in you that is undeniable. You can choose to brush it off and make excuses about policies and money, or you can stand up and be the physician that is described. I agree that there are a lot of issues in medicine today (billing, paperwork, bureaucracy to name only a few). However, if those issues render you cold and uncaring, my friend, I strongly suggest you find another profession. This profession is one of nobility. It is one of selfLESSness. This is a high calling. A good book states, ‘To whom much has been given; much will be expected.’ Well, if you are a physician, much has been given to you. What are you going to do with it?”

Today’s question: How would you answer Jonathan?

*This blog post was originally published at The ACP Advocate Blog by Bob Doherty*

Why More Doctors Don’t Blog

I recently got into a discussion with a couple friends about doctors and blogging. Why don’t we see more doctors out there? Of the hundreds of thousands of doctors, I’d expect more to be taking a voice. Even during the U.S. healthcare reform debate — crickets.

Of course there are doctors who blog, but the numbers are slim. What’s behind it?

Passion. Pushing great content requires a passionate interest in changing ideas and making a difference. There’s malaise in medicine right now. Margins are slim. Physicians are losing control of what’s happening around them. The fire in the belly that drove so many doctors to choose medicine has given way to a preoccupation with survival.

Late adopters. Most doctors think a blog is something that deviant teens do on a cellphone. There’s endemic ignorance in the medical community surrounding social technology. Can we teach ‘em? Maybe. But I think this is a generational issue that will work itself out with time. The use of social technology to facilitate dialog between doctor and patient will evolve over the next several years as: 1) technology evolves and 2) digital communication becomes a standard. Keep in mind that many of us still work with doctors who grew up using rotary phones. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

Young Doctors Who Lie

This is something: A study published in the July 20, 2010 Annals of Internal Medicine finds that 5 percent of residency applications contain plagiarized content. The study from Boston’s Brigham & Woman’s Hospital is based on the personal statements of nearly 5,000 residency applicants that were matched against a database of published content.

The authors comment that the study is limited, among other things, by the fact that it was done in just one institution. It makes me wonder if the number is artificially high or potentially too low.

So why would medical students lie? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

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