The cost of health care in the US is higher than anywhere else in the world, and yet we are not healthier than our peer nations. In fact, in terms of such measures as infant mortality and life span, we don't measure up. Why is this? Many people involved in providing or receiving care have some pretty good ideas about what costs so much, and what we can do to reduce costs and improve quality. Sharing these stories is an important step in creating affordable universal health care.
After doing a week of night shifts, I went to Newark, NJ to take a 3 day course to get me sufficiently full of details of physics and anatomy to take the written test for ultrasound certification (RDMS). It was put on by ESP Ultrasound and is intended primarily for certification of technicians, so there were many mostly young women there who had very different backgrounds than I did. An experienced ultrasound tech knows tons of intimate details of anatomy after visualizing its inner mysteries daily. I have much to learn. As for how those intricate parts behave in health and disease, I definitely know more. The physics of ultrasound is complex and fascinating, but that was not what was covered in the course. It unabashedly provided us with the information we would need to pass the test. I am grateful, if unenlightened. I then hung out with friends in rural New Jersey for a week forgetting anything medical, singing and laughing and eating good food.
In October of 2011 I left my job of 17 years, which I loved, mostly, and started a 2 year sabbatical. Since sabbatical implies that there is one year of rest every 7 years, I have built up at least 2 years since finishing medical school in 1986. Nobody in my office or medical community did sabbaticals, but we discussed that it would be a great idea when we first set up our practice. Various life changing events including 1 death, a retirement and the launching of 2 children required a response from me, and thus the sabbatical.
Physicians ought to do this. We are frequently overworked and burned out and rate ourselves as undercompensated for what we do despite the fact that we belong to one of the best paid occupations in the US. We develop a sense of duty and dread and get so busy trying to hold families and practices and administrative responsibilities together that we have neither the time nor the energy to figure out how to rejuvenate ourselves. We end up not loving the job that i…