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Is a Career in the Medical Field worth it? When to Re-evaluate your Career Choices.
A Little Background First
I have been in the medical field for over 11 years and have seen quite a bit. I started out as a certified medical assistant and got to work one on one with physicians of various specialties. Sure, it was exciting...at first. I find myself often thinking back. It seemed that each patient was an individual and no one else mattered. It gave me faith in doctors. But, that soon changed and I then moved away from the clinical aspect. Now, I work in administration, but I still get to work with patients everyday. I've become more of a advocate for them; getting to know each one personally. I get them free transportation services, teach them how to sign up for free state programs to supplement their Medicare and even clip on-line coupons for them so that they can save on their medications. Of course this is all above my normal, everyday job. But, no one told me to do all of these "extra" things. Somewhere along the lines of this so-called "new" career in the medical field...I felt that someone had to do it. It's pathetic how fast my opinion of doctors changed and all I had to do was watch them work.
Don't get me wrong. There are excellent doctors out there. Doctors that live for medicine. Doctors that believe in themselves as doctors. They are not all like the ones I describe in my articles. I can only speak from my own experiences. And so, this is how it's seen from the eyes of a single person fighting for thousands. Imagine a doctor who can't even remember the patient's name even though he's seen the patient many, many times before. It irritates me to no end. These are some of the things I see.
I said it before and I'll say it again...medicine is BIG business for some doctors. Especially now! Why all of a sudden? Well, lately insurance companies have been tightening the belt and putting the squeeze on physicians in every specialty. More audits of patients files are being performed to check for appropriate billing. And, it's hurting some doctors. When you have to pay money back to an insurance company...well, it's a bitch. So, for those affected, all of a sudden medicine is very green. Green like Benjamin Franklin's that is.
Appointments are being overbooked and patient interviews are being rushed. This leads to incomplete medical charts and will eventually lead to poor documentation of medical history. These types of errors due to "rushing through" can place a patient in danger (in my opinion). Let's say for example that someone doesn't document a patient's allergy to latex because they're rushing through the admission process. Now, the physician puts on latex gloves for the examination. Well, you can pretty much figure out what's going to happen. And, guess who will pay for that one? All of this rushing is why some of the medical staff become more irritable hour by hour. It's due to all of the stress that builds up as the day progresses. Have you ever walked into a doctor's office and thought to yourself "holy Moses, are all of these people here to see the same doctor as me"? Well, guess what?...they all are.
Deciding Where to Work
There are so many places one could begin a career in the medical field. There are hospitals, nursing homes, labs, private practices and other places for you to settle in for the long haul. No matter where you may choose to begin your career, always do the right thing for the patient. For example, if you start a career in a physicians office and you notice that there are no boundaries or there is no discipline then you may want to look elsewhere to settle in. If you choose to work in a hospital setting and you notice there is more horseplay then there is processing the patients properly then look elsewhere. Keep looking until you find a place where you can decide how you perform your own work duties. Sure, every place has standards of practice, But, if your boss feels the need to dictate to you all of your movements and thoughts because he or she is concerned that your decision making may affect their wallet then you don't need to be there. No matter where you go, if patient care is secondary then by all means don't plan on retiring from that place.
If you choose to stay, one of two things will eventually happen in my opinion. You will either become one of those people who doesn't care or you will hate it over time. By then, it will be too late. You will feel trapped because you didn't get out when you should have. Don't let this happen to you. If you want a career in healthcare because of the money then you are getting into it for the wrong reason. You should have a willingness to provide comfort and heartfelt care to patients of every age, gender, religion and ethnicity and sexual preference. You must be willing to work with patients that have communicable diseases. You must willing to work through pressure and emergent situations. You must be willing to sacrifice...a lot. Time with your own family is only a small sacrifice you'll have to make. If you aren't willing to do these things then please choose another career option. Healthcare would not be for you.
Are Some Doctors in It for the Money?
No matter your position in the medical field whether administrative or clinical, you will see many things. I work with nurses, technicians, medical assistants, administrative assistants and of course multiple physicians. I believe I've seen enough to form an opinion of my own. Some good and some not so good. The not so good will have you looking at some doctors from a whole new perspective. And, nothing you say or do will change them. It will be up to you to do the right thing for the patient, no matter what. You will have to be able to look into the mirror and love what you see. You have to be able to tell your children that they can look up to you...and you have to mean it. You have to be able to spend the money in your bank account and tell yourself that you've earned every nickel.
I have seen patient's come in with everything from simple lesions to excruciating pain and bleeding rectums. It kills me that just about all of them are sent home and asked to come back another day for treatment. Some of them are not even given so much as a prescription for pain medication. I know this one doctor who actually tells his patients to come back for surgery and then he'll give them a prescription for pain. It boggles my mind how he dangles "relief" over their head much like dangling a carrot in front of a horse to get it to do what you want.
Sure, most patients do come back while others go somewhere else for treatment. Those that chose to seek medical care elsewhere were probably better off. Patients have to trust their health care providers...this includes you. Seeing things like this often made me wonder if this particular doctor cared about his patients at all. He seemed to only care about setting himself up for a second, heftier payment. It's double dipping at its best.
How Much Money Do Private Practice Physicians Really Make?
Wow!!! It can range from hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to millions. Doctor's don't get paid by the hour, they get paid by coding. Coding basically is a series of numbers known as Current Procedural Terminology. Doctors choose a particular CPT code that would describe how a patients visit with them would be billed to the patients insurance. These codes range from new visits, follow up visits, radiology, surgery, home health care and much more. For each code that a doctor bills to the insurance company they will be paid a certain dollar amount. Now, imagine if they're creative with their coding. Well, obviously more money is paid to them. Some doctors learn this trick rather quickly and run with it. It's this need for more money that may eventually change some doctors from honest to goodness health care providers to greedy, pretentious people. It's illegal and unethical.
Make a Wise Choice for Yourself
Deciding to work in the medical field can bring one pride and honor. But, if you get wrapped up in unethical behavior then you're not doing the field any good. Healthcare workers are very much needed. Before you decide in this as a career option make certain that you're willing to battle relentless demons...especially those inside your own head. Good Luck!