Doctors Are Nothing Special

April 11, 2014
Setu Mazumdar, MD, CFP

Although physicians spend longer on their education and are held responsible for much more than most people, the government, hospital systems, and insurance companies don't consider physicians anything special.

One of my physician clients called me last week saying she’d had enough and resigned from her physician group practice.

She was fed up with seeing tons of patients and dealing with the herculean EMR system in her practice, which adds a dozen or more hours to her work week. Plus, she works for a large medical practice, which is owned by a hospital system. She is simply a liability on the corporate balance sheet—part of the salaries and wages payable.

Anyway, I had told her about another opportunity in her area that may be more tolerable for her -- basically same pay buy less stressful work and fewer patients per day.

She’d still be a corporate scut monkey, but at least for the time being she’d see fewer patients. It’ll probably buy her some time until she gets squeezed at that job, too. (By the way, if you’ve hired a financial advisor, he or she should be discussing way more than just investment returns with you.)

So she decided to apply for the job I told her about, but the way the next corporate tycoon hires doctors is to first send them to a website and search for jobs in the area, and then submit a CV. Here’s the most interesting part.

Physicians are lumped together with all of the following:

Data Analyst

Sales Manager

HR Consultant

Front Office Specialist

X-ray Technician

Help Desk Analyst

Medical Assistant

Nurse Practitioner

Physical Therapist

Sales Account Representative

Technical Support Analyst

And many more.

I’m not saying that the other jobs are not important. They are. And they are necessary to take care of patients. But if you’re a physician, you spent more years on your education than anybody on that list. And you are held responsible for more than anybody on that list.

If a patient has a bad outcome, do you think the corporate executives and lawyers will blame the help desk analyst or the HR consultant? Not a chance.

The blame and full responsibility is dumped on you and only you.

Although you are held to standard of perfection as a physician, you are buried together with everyone else.

What does this mean?

Well, unless you’ve stuck your head in the bowels of the hospital the past decade, it means you ain’t nothing special my friend. Not according to the powers that matter—the government, insurance companies, hospital systems, and other corporate behemoths.

You are but a click on a dropdown menu.

The sooner you accept this fact, the sooner you’ll trade in your BMW for a Honda and downsize your home so you can get your finances together and build a personal financial fortress.

Or you can continue plugging away, pretending that everything is just fine. That’s exactly how the controllers of your purse string want it.

Ignorance is bliss as they say. And it’s a windfall for them.

But not for you.

Take that as a kick to start whipping your finances into shape and build that financial fortress so you won’t be a cell on a spreadsheet anymore.