Do You Want To See A Physician Or A “Provider?”

The article below gives voice to the sentiments I feel, as do most of the physicians I know. I believe it is all part of the commoditization of medicine in our society. Patients are pegs being put into the holes that are the overbooked schedules in big box clinics. One size fits all. It doesn’t matter to the hospital administrator or insurance conglomerate whether or not a patient is seeing a physician who went to a top ranked medical school and has 20 years experience, or if they are seeing a nurse practitioner who barely passed their tests in a third rate program. To them, it is all the same.

Can you imagine a prestigious law firm accepting the same fees for an hour with one of the founding partners as they do with a newly hired paralegal? Would you be happy about being charged the same amount for a plumber’s apprentice as you would a master plumber? Of course not! In every other profession, experience and skill have value, except medicine.

If this trend does not change, someday soon, bright students who want to go into the health care field will realize that if everyone is a “provider,” then why should they invest the time and money to go to medical school and residency when they get no more respect that someone who didn’t? Then where would we be? We would have far less innovation. There would be less research. There would be too many “providers” blindly following algorithms rather than using their skill and experience.

I know that many who read this will think that I am arrogant and cocky. I would prefer to think that I am proud of being a doctor. It was hard work to earn the title. I freely grant that there is a role for non-physicians in health care, but it is not to replace the doctor. If it were, they would be called “physician replacements,” not physician assistants.

Michael A. Ciampi, M.D.

If you don’t allow yourself to be called a provider, you won’t be one.
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