Amen to the 800 Project

I saw the article in the tweet above about the 800 Project on the Humanism in Medicine website the other day and I said “Amen to that.” What Dr. Levin says about how practicing physicians feel about their careers rings true for thousands of doctors, “Pushed to see an increasing number of patients in a shorter amount of time, forced to spend precious hours “charting”, regulated by everyone including their own specialty organizations, their careers are not what they had imagined.”

Did you catch that? I mean the part about “…regulated by everyone including their own specialty organizations.” If you don’t see that Dr. Levin means Maintenance of Certification (MOC) and Maintenance of Licensure (MOL), read it again and think hard.

I understand what Levin means when he describes “…the demoralization of physicians as they are caught in the bureaucratic nightmare of an increasingly corporatized healthcare system.  The contrast is stark. Back in the day, the “apparent curriculum” of the practice of medicine was about patient care; challenging cases, discussions with colleagues about symptoms, diagnoses, better treatment options. So often now, discussions focus on incompatible and inadequate electronic health record systems, reimbursement issues, lack of time to spend with patients, and early retirement due to physical and psychological burnout.”

I think about early retirement every day. I would be one of the “…9 out of 10…unwilling to recommend health care as a career…contemplating early retirement in the next five years”–except for treasured moments in the teaching of medical students and residents.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Graduating resident, Dr. Paul Thisayakorn and his mentor, Dr. Jim Amos

Graduating resident, Dr. Paul Thisayakorn and his mentor, Dr. Jim Amos

The 800 Project sounds like a good idea, as long as it leads to action, the kind of action I don’t see from the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, or the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.

I know where Dr. Levin ought to look for his 800 Project Task Force of practicing physicians to begin lifting the burden from doctors everywhere in America. He can look for them in those who share what they suffer on http://www.changeboardrecert.com/.

He can search the signatories of the petition against the recent changes to MOC by the American Board of Internal Medicine at http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/recallmoc.

He can start there. But he can ignore the executives at the American Board of Medical Specialties. They won’t help him and they’re not interested in the 800 Project. In fact, I’m sure they curse it because it may shed even more light on their short-sightedness, the lack of evidence that MOC leads to any change in patient outcomes, and their greed. They are not the leaders who will lead young doctors-to-be out of the dark–they bring the dark.

Dr. Levin, look for the common doctors, not the suits making millions of dollars. You can easily find 800 physicians, not one of whom makes $800,000 a year, to tell you what needs to happen now to prevent further burnout and early retirement.

And I say “Amen” to that.

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