How doctors celebrate Independence Day: They don’t


It’s July 4th! All across the country, Americans are celebrating freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Families and friends are relishing potato salad, apple pie, barbecues and parades.

Is your doctor decked out in red, white, and blue enjoying fireworks from his yacht? Probably not.

Have you seen any medical students waving little flags? Unlikely.

The truth is American medicine has little to do with liberation or independence. July 4th is just another day of captivity and confinement for most American doctors — and nearly all medical students.

Once upon a time all doctors were independent — until recently. My parents were both solo docs. Now most physicians are salaried factory workers practicing assembly-line medicine.

In fact, 9 out of 10 doctors wouldn’t recommend medicine as a profession.

Why? Here are a few factoids.

Pages in U.S. tax code: 74,608

Pages of Medicare regulations by which physicians must abide: > 132,000

Current number of diagnostic and procedure codes doctors must know: 17,000

Number of codes docs are responsible for with new guidelines in October: >140,000.

Percent of working hours doctors spend on non-patient-related paperwork: 22 percent

Percent of working hours doctors spend on patient-related paperwork: > 60 percent

Percent of time doctors spend looking at computers instead of patients: 40 percent

Percent of working hours new doctors spend face-to-face with patients: 12 percent

Which is how many minutes per patient: 8

Maybe that’s why over 1 million Americans will lose their doctors to suicide this year.

In the land of live free or die, some chose death.

I considered it.

Until I decided to live free as a solo doc.

Join me this July 4th to declare your independence.

Pamela Wible pioneered the community-designed ideal medical clinic and blogs at Ideal Medical Care. She is the author of Pet Goats and Pap Smears. Watch her TEDx talk, How to Get Naked with Your Doctor. She hosts the physician retreat, Live Your Dream, to help her colleagues heal from grief and reclaim their lives and careers.

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