If You Care About People, The Medical Field Needs You More Than Ever

medical field

About a year ago, a thousand kids were asked what they wanted to be when they grew up.

As with all surveys, this one leaves us with a lot of unanswered questions. Just over half the respondents provided the top ten jobs.

We do not know anything about the income bracket or level of diversity the kids represented.

The gender mix could have been extremely lopsided. We just don’t know.

That said, the responses were still worthy of consideration. Broken down by gender, doctor was at the top of both lists. I looked at a lot of lists from a lot of sources. Though not always #1, it seems there is still a lot of momentum for the healthcare profession. An awful lot of kids want to be doctors when they grow up.

Having fallen off the top ten of most lists is nursing. Perhaps that is because there have always been a lot of TV shows about doctors and very few about nurses.

In what might be a misguided attempt to give nursing more gravitas, it was required of nurses to obtain a degree. But as Dr. Paul Thorpe noted in a somewhat controversial opinion piece: Nurses are already as important as doctors in getting the patient through their healthcare experience, but their roles are different.

His observation may have been borne out by research showing that there are more patient fatalities during nurses strikes. In hospitals, we simply can’t live without them. And if the desires of a thousands of little boys and girls are a predictor of anything, the future looks bleak for the caring side of healthcare.

Putting the “Care” in Healthcare

The world is suffering from passion deprivation in areas where idealism once ruled. When the nurses become more concerned with advanced degrees and increased salaries over patient care, we have a real problem. We have no problem seeing doctors as money-driven social climbers who happen to do jobs vital to society.

While doctors are brilliant professionals, they also have to maintain a certain emotional distance. Nurses are the ones we depend on to provide the more nurturing type of care.

We need those people in the medical profession who are there out of an idealistic passion to help other people and to make the world a better place.

A guiding principle written in the mission statement of one of the RN programs in Pennsylvania is:

That the cultivation of compassion, intellectual inquiry, dedication to truth, mercy, and justice is essential in improving the human condition.

This kind of idealism is what makes great nurses, not a relentless climb up the corporate ladder for maximum prestige.

People Who Can’t Be Bought

I don’t mean to accuse your doctor of any wrongdoing. But there is a good chance she has accepted money or gifts from pharmaceutical companies as payment for prescribing their drugs. At ProPublica, you can type in your doctor’s name and see if she has been taking money from pharmaceutical companies and for what.

What you will not find are the names of nurses. That is partly because nurses are not in a position to be bribed by third-parties who are not concerned about your health.

Nurses are focused on you and your interests. In all fairness, so are many doctors. But a shocking number of them have been compromised by the easy money they can make on the side for serving the interest of big pharma over yours.

Doing Science, not Budgets

Finally, doctors are not only compromised by pharmaceutical companies but by insurance companies. These days, there is no way of knowing if a doctor ordered a test because he will get paid more for doing expensive tests or if he refused to do a test because an insurance company pays him to keep the budget low.

The healthcare industry has suffered a number of black eyes in recent years. The business of medicine is just as ugly as any other business. Now, more than ever, we need passionate idealists to save the industry … and perhaps, the world.

(Photo by JD Lasica / CC BY)

Tina Su is the editor at Work Awesome and Think Simple Now.


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