Sunday, April 26, 2015
Fast Food Medicine
Just coming up for a breath of fresh air here and thought I'd do a bit of "self-soothing"/venting... I'm almost done with my first year of medical residency known more commonly as "intern year"... a right of passage year, a hazing experience, an introduction into the dark underbelly of assembly line medicine. Imagine the book House of God without all of the friendship, sex, and humor... but with a more suffocating patient load. A *load of scared aging increasingly co-morbid baby boomers looking to an increasingly inexperienced and self absorbed group of junior depressed and debt burdoned physicians for care. Trapped by 8 years of student loans, US laws forbidding physicians from collective bargaining, and our own moral highground/ethics, we medical residents are forced to smile and say, "thank you sir, would you like anything else to eat?"... because no one likes a complainer. With websites advertising alternate careers for doctors such as the well known Drop Out Club attract an increasing number of viewers, the NY Times publishing articles such as this (http://mobile.nytimes.com/blogs/well/2013/04/18/doing-the-math-on-resident-work-hours/?referrer), and minds like Malcom Gladwell's producing comments such as, "The biggest challenge facing the United States right now is state of healthcare and the first step in solving the problem is making the public understand what it means to be a physician", the shockingly impersonal nature of modern medicine is being aknowledged for the first time. Just as the standard american diet has become known as the S.A.D diet to nutritionists, I suggest that we label the american medical model - the Fast Food Model - "Fast Food Medicine". Fast Foot Medicine Continued.... Warlords are known to force the children they kidnap to commit heinous crimes in order to introduce them to the inhumane. Forcing a person to behave in contradiction to their conscious promotes a sense of worthlessness and alienation that can be exploited. In Joseph Kony's case, it served to create an army of child murderers who felt they could never be accepted back into their communities after such acts. In the graduate medical education case, a similar phenomenon exists which introduces doctors to their insensitive and callous potential. Whether intentional or co-incidental, the healthcare system in the United States can only function with such practitioners. Just as assembly line workers must quickly detach themselves from each product they are contributing to the creation of, so too must doctors detach themselves from the patients they are participating in the care of.