My Uncle Milton was an obstetrician. I adored him. According to my mother, he put himself through medical school by selling hot dogs on a street corner. His wife, my Aunt Ruth, who died a couple of years ago at 104 was used to his leaving the house at all hours of the night. He delivered a significant percentage of the babies born in Buffalo, New York over the course of his long career. Back then, they didn’t have those medical partnerships that allow obstetricians to sleep through the night when it isn’t their night “on”.
I was thinking about that the other day when I met a new doctor and asked him how he felt about practicing medicine in these days of hurried appointments during much of which the doctor is typing on a computer. He said he didn’t know any other way. (He did look pretty young.) He added that the older physicians he knew didn’t have to do much typing because they saw far fewer patients and they could remember them. Today’s doctors take notes because they don’t have the luxury of getting to know people they see.
And it’s different for patients too. Although there are many modern medical miracles for which we are grateful, we have to be more aggressive in seeking care if we don’t want to get lost in the healthcare bureaucracy.
Something has been gained. But something has been lost.