Another topic which I hope to expand into a series–what it’s REALLY like to be a practicing primary care physician in 2016.
It wasn’t long after my entry into medical school that it quickly became evident that it’s impossible to know everything. I tried, but some topics like biochemistry were like Teflon to my brain. I could remember those reactions in the Krebs cycle long enough to pass the exam but not much else. Fortunately, not a single patient in 30 plus years of practice has ever required me to recall the sequence of reactions that produce isocitrate, α -ketoglutarate, succinyl coenzyme A, succinate, fumarate, malate, and oxaloacetate (which, by the way, I had to look up just now to complete this sentence).
Fast forward to the present–primary care doctors are now expected to do more than heal the sick. You’ve heard me talk about the social determinants of health. These days, if a person’s socioeconomic situation is contributing to his poor health, we’re expected to fix it. Medicare needs more data to justify the rising cost of healthcare so physicians have become data entry clerks despite many being only “hunt and peck” typists. Physician organizations need to find ways to collect and analyze data about the patients covered by their participating plans so doctors have to be amateur software engineers to help with predictive data analytics.
I’m sorry, but this is not why I went into medicine.