[ Monday, December 15, 2008 ]


Slightly OT: The impending/current doctor shortage: I have a particular pet peeve that occasionally bubbles to the surface. I think the last time I brought it up was in response to a medical school resident. He was in the age category that HR folks would call a "millenial" -- these are the post-generation-X (and post-gen Y) young adults who are just entering the job market and as a group have a lot less ambition and drive than older workers, partly because they grew up playing on sports teams where everyone got a trophy. The story on millenials is that they want quality of life and don't care so much about individual success.

Anyway, this guy was complaining about how much money he was about to make once his residency was over. Forget about the amount of money he (or, much more likely, his parents) had to spend to get him to that point, and about how much money he'd need to make just to repay and generate a return on that investment. But that's the millenial mindset.

As a lawyer, I also see a lot of propagation of the stereotype of the "rich doctor." For medical malpractice lawyer, that's a useful straw man. For anyone trying to reform the healthcare system, it's nice and very useful to have a greedy bastard on whom to blame the high costs of the system (the insurance companies and/or the drug companies work in this regard as well).

But the problem is not that doctors are overcompensated; in fact, they're underpaid. Considering how hard you have to work to become a doctor (the school achievement requirements as well as the slave labor as a resident, intern and/or fellow), and how hard you have to work to make a living as a doctor (call coverage, and the need for an ever-increasing patient load to generate the same revenue stream), and considering how much money smart college kids could make elsewhere as investment bankers or software engineers, the attractiveness of being a doctor continues to wane.

Here's a story in the NY Times on the doctor shortage. As my blogfather says, when you reduce the compensation and increase the burdens, you can't be surprised when people stop doing that job.

The question is this: do we, as a society, want the best and brightest of our young minds to become doctors? Or do we want the best and brightest to go to Wall Street or Silicone Valley (or law school), and let the second-tier talent become doctors?

When people say we spend too much on healthcare, where do they want to cut costs?

Jeff [11:00 AM]

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