Like Greengo, I am an internist as well.
My experience is different somewhat from hers. I belong to a small group - for 8 years, it was just me and my partner, and we only recently acquired another partner last year, making it 3 men operation. We are also located at a small suburb of a metropolitan, so we had the advantage of being in a small town with easy access to a world class medical center.
I agree with Greengo about the bad of medicine. Medicine had declined drastically over the years. Patients had lost their respect for physicians, and physicians had lost their authority. There are too many people calling the shots - insurance companies, government, lawyers, hospitals, even the case managers and socaial workers. Physicians are just all too independent and to some extreme selfish that they are unable to group together to form a successful forum to fight against all of the pressure from outside. AMA is a joke - majority of physicians in the country are not a member of AMA because of its ineptness and corruption. As a result, our salaries are in the declines - Medicare is cutting 5 percent of payment each year, and since most of the insurance companies link their payment to Medicare, their payment is cut as well. On top of that, most insurances discount our services as well, so for every $100 I charge, I would be lucky to get $33 back, about 6-8 weeks after I initially billed for the payment. As a result, we are forced to have to see more and more patients each day and spend less time with each patients to make the ends meet. Patients become unhappy with the waiting time, and when something bad happens, they sue. Lawyers have a field day with lawsuits, since they get about 33?lus the contingency fee when they win a lawsuit, but loses practically nothing if they don't win. Physicians, once sued, will have a permanent mark on their record, regardless of whether we won or not.
Aside from that, I like my job. I love to spend time with my patients and "visit" them. To them, I am their friend and confidant. They know they can come see me for any problem, and I spend a lot of our visit time either joking around or educating them about diseases. That is what I enjoy about my job - to create a easy going, fun environment so we can work together. When my patients are doing well, their visits are like a visit to the neighbor - casual question about their grandkids and joking about having them set me up with their cute neighbor. When a patient is not doing well, they will hear it from me, and they know I mean business.
I work at least 60 hours a week in the office and hospital, plus the telephone calls and occasional midnight trip to the hospital. Going to the hospital at odd hours and getting phone calls around the day is part of the job that you will have to accept when you decide to apply to medical school. Once you made that decision, you know you will have committed to a lifestyle very different from everyone else. Once you accepted that, it is not too bad. We train out patients so they try not to call. I still get the stupid and annoying calls at times, but for most part, patients feel guilty about calling and are appreciative of me calling them back at nights and weekends. As for call schedule, two of us takes call - my serior partner got out of the call schedule due to seniority. So, I am on call for 7 days in a row, then not on call for 7 days. When I am on call, I have to take all phone call at night and weekend as well as going in the hospital to round on the patients on the weekend. When I am out of office and not on call, I am not working - I am on my free time, and I don't do anything medical except some study at times.
I am very efficient and get things done, so I don't waste too much time. I have enough personal time to train for marathons and go on to trips, as well as to write for this Yahoo Answer and other outside activities. In the evenings, I would go out to dinner meetings sponsored by pharmaceutical companies to learn something and enjoy the company of my friends and colleagues. Even if my pay is not that much - primary care physicians don't get pay too much - I still command a good salary compared to the rest of the population and offer me time and money to do some things I enjooy.
Would I choose to be a doctor all over again? Maybe. Would I choose to be an internist? Maybe. Could I imagine myself doing something else? Not at this point of my life.
Answered By: J - 7/7/2007