A recent essay in the Wall Street Journal from Dr Sandeep Jauhar explores the decline in job satisfaction and happiness in American doctors. Adapted from his recent book “Doctored: The Disillusionment of an American Physician” Dr Jauhar’s commentary paints a bleak picture of discontent and low morale. Being in the WSJ, there is a strong economic slant, but the piece seems relevant, or at least of interest, to people in all health professions.
American physicians are increasingly unhappy with their once-vaunted profession, and that malaise is bad for their patients.
“It could be just a midlife crisis, but it occurs to me that my profession is in a sort of midlife crisis of its own. In the past four decades, American doctors have lost the status they used to enjoy. In the mid-20th century, physicians were the pillars of any community. If you were smart and sincere and ambitious, at the top of your class, there was nothing nobler or more rewarding that you could aspire to become.
In surveys, a majority of doctors express diminished enthusiasm for medicine and say they would discourage a friend or family member from entering the profession. In a 2008 survey of 12,000 physicians, only 6% described their morale as positive.”
Are allied health professions similarly afflicted by this malaise? Perhaps having never enjoyed the lofty social status bestowed on doctors throughout history, allied health professionals have been somewhat protected from this decline?
Maybe not being able to use a prescription pad or scalpel has allowed allied health professionals and therapists to understand and experience more “Human Moments” – those encounters that often define moments of satisfaction and contentment as explained in Dr Jauhar’s closing thoughts:
“What’s most important to me as a doctor, I’ve learned, are the human moments. Medicine is about taking care of people in their most vulnerable states and making yourself somewhat vulnerable in the process. Those human moments are what others—the lawyers, the bankers—envy about our profession, and no company, no agency, no entity can take those away. Ultimately, this is the best hope for our professional salvation.”
Or maybe the job satisfaction rate is just as low and the burnout rate just as high?
Personal experiences and thoughts welcome in the comments below.
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