The Doctor’s Lament


“I love being a doctor but I hate practicing medicine,” a friend, Saeed Siddiqui, told me recently. We were sitting in his office amid his many framed medical certificates and a poster of an illuminated lighthouse that read: “Success doesn’t come to you. You go to it.”

Not Emergency Medicine physicians who don’t have all of the problems listed. Primary Care and specialty physicians are complaining that it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to practice good medicine. Insurance companies, both the private ones and the biggest ones run by the government are denying claims, restricting what tests can be run, insisting on generic drugs when brand names are prescribed, and burying doctors under mountains of paperwork.

Then there is the ever rising cost of malpractice insurance.

More and more doctors are giving up private practice or medicine entirely. Others are opening “boutique” practices where they limit the number of patients they see and require a retainer up front.

Then there are the divorce and suicide rates, which are way above the rates for the general population.

One doctor in the article is even considering giving up medicine to open a convenience store, it’s that bad.

We’ve built the best medical care system in the world and now it seems that we can’t afford to keep it running. Which is not to say that socialized or centralized medicine is the answer. If you think it is, look at both the wait times and who gets treated decisions in England and Canada.

I don’t think that doctors are overpaid given their education and the costs of running even a small practice.

Nor do I think that “Big Pharm” is the villian. Or “Big Insurance” for that matter.

I have to wonder if “Big Government” is more the problem than the solution. As I get older, I have less and less faith in politicians and bureaucrats to solve any problem, big or small. That’s just me, so if you have a different opinion, I’m all ears.

The article doesn’t offer any answers and neither can I. I’m not even sure it’s the crisis that the NY Times would have us think it is since they don’t cite any hard statistics.

I have to wonder when and how much this is going to effect EMS, because you know at some point it is.

Don’t forget to read the comments that accompany the article.

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After a long career as a field EMS provider, I'm now doing all that back office stuff I used to laugh at. Life is full of ironies, isn't it? I still live in the Northeast corner of the United States, although I hope to change that to another part of the country more in tune with my values and beliefs. I still write about EMS, but I'm adding more and more non EMS subject matter. Thanks for visiting.


  1. snip..”after all, nothing is more important than health. If we would only recognize that, stop feeling silly about standing up for ourselves, and do something about the sorry state of affairs as detailed in this article. Our hubris isn’t good for anyone.”And this statement, somewhat taken out of context from a comment, can be connected to so many professions, including EMS.I use to work in a hospital based EMS system. I also use to believe that doctors simply enjoyed a higher standard of living because they made gobs or money. Now I know understand this article fully as I saw doctors being called away from home numerous times a night for the hangnail in ER that the patient couldn’t take time out of their busy day to go to a clinic to have fixed. My brother-in-law is a physician in a specialty..they cannot attend many family events because he is only one of two physicians IN his specialty that can cover call…so he’s on call pretty much all the time.They also have large education fees that need to be paid. Think of a four year BA degree costing around $125,000 for the average student, then double and triple that.I’m not saying they haven’t created some of there own current problems, but lets be realistic…they are responsible for the failure of the healthcare system in this country.

  2. I totally agree. I worked at a Big Prestigious Hospital (as a lowly tech) a few years ago, and all the established physicians were hugely overworked – I mean, to the point of bordering on superhuman and/or very unhealthy (physically, mentally or emotionally). My boss regularly worked till 2am, and was back at work at 6am. A friend of mine interned at the BPH, and was working 100+ hour weeks regularly (to say nothing of the strain of the actual work involved). Doctors are, by all rational measures, quite underpaid, given their education debt, training, hours worked, demand for services, work conditions and quality of life. And I say this as someone with comparable number of years of education. I will be ecstatic if I ever earn more than five figures in one year, teaching the next generation of physicians. Anyway, for a similarly-themed article that has hard numbers, actual studies and references cited, you might try (the rather lengthy)

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