On Being a Fossil

“The solo practice physician worthy of a Normal Rockwell painting has become a fossil of the past.” Andrew Coates

I don’t know why I was surprised when I saw this in an article about the changes currently taking place within the medical profession.  Increasingly, I am seeing people talk about doctor’s doing “doctor’s work” and having “support staff” do everything else.  What this seems to mean is that doctors are supposed to diagnose and maybe manage the absolute most complicated cases but that everything else should be delegated.  Have diabetes?  A clinician will order your labs and get you your results, a dietician run your diabetes group, a case manager call and harass you if you don’t show up.

I love what I do because I get to do all those things.  I diagnosis, monitor, teach, and harass.  As a family physician, I have the unique opportunity to nag patients who have innocently brought their family members in to my office, not realizing I remember full well that they are overdue for a colonoscopy or are carrying a Big Gulp and supposed to be cutting out simple sugars.  I love that I can change what happens here the moment I decide it needs to be changed.  Schedule inconvenient for people?  Changed.  Seating not comfortable?  Changed.  Need more space for family meetings?  Done.  There is no committee…I just take care of it.

I respect the fact that other physicians are happiest in a group or employed by a hospital.  I’m happiest here.  And I’m NOT a fossil!

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