With his recent [September 18] New York Times‘s Opinionator piece, “Medicine’s Search for Meaning,” David Bornstein stumbled upon a phenomenon—a cache of disaffected, frustrated, angry doctors, the same cache I’ve stumbled on with GOD’S HOTEL, and its message that the best medicine is often Slow Medicine. So many doctors wrote in response that Bornstein wrote a follow-up essay on October 2, “Who Will Heal the Doctors?” and hundreds more doctors have responded to that.
Imagine how many doctors those hundreds represent!. . . And you don’t have to imagine, I can tell you—they represent thousands. The thousands of doctors who are retiring early because they can’t stand not being able to practice real medicine. The thousands of doctors who are dropping out to set up concierge or boutique or direct patient practices—so they have enough time to do a good job. The thousands more with medical school loans and years to go who are seething; their anger soon to boil and then reduce into a mixture of depression and withdrawal.
What do all these doctors want? More money?
Not exactly. More money, sure why not, but more important, they want their profession, their calling, back, with its values of service and respect. They want not to be healthcare providers, or worse, healthcare data providers. Above all, they want—we want—our time back with our patients.
That’s the real bottom line. Nothing—no healthcare efficiencies, no computer algorithms—can shorten the time it takes for a doctor to do a good job—which means listening to the patient, doing a thorough exam, going over labs, formulating the diagnosis and coming up with the plan.
After seeing the effect of his piece, Bornstein had the thought that what doctors need is a movement, a kind of “Occupy Medicine.”
But don’t doctors already Occupy Medicine?
Alas, they don’t, having been pushed out of that property by healthcare economists, bureaucrats, administrators and all their consequent rules, regulations, and forms, which now take up seventy percent of our time, as recent studies have shown.
Well then, why not re-occupy Medicine, for one day at least? A Slow Medicine Day, perhaps? A day where doctors choose not to fill out forms but instead spend our time with our patients. What would happen? If doctors took all the time they needed on one particular day? Would it take us until midnight to see our patients? Or with all the extra time we’d have from not filling out forms, would we end up seeing our patients in the same amount of time or even less?
Certainly we would see them better and therefore more efficiently, since with all the time we needed to listen, examine, and think we would get closer to their real diagnoses and their correct treatments. And nothing is more cost-effective than that.
I’d never read an entire book out loud before, and recording GOD’S HOTEL was strenuous. So I’m especially pleased that got a great review in the leading audio reviewing magazine, AudioFile.
Here’s a sample: GodsHotel
First, this by Lloyd Sederer MD in the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lloyd-i-sederer-md/book-review_b_3624307.html. Dr. Sederer also did a wonderful spoof of the recent edition of the DSM5: http://www.amazon.com/The-
And Books and Culture:http://www.booksandculture.com/articles/2013/julaug/slow-medicine.html?start=1
Also in Books and Culture, which has been picked by the American Conservative, who writes this: http://www.theamericanconservative.com. I have to confess that I love being on both sides of the divide that shouldn’t be there.
And this one in the Journal of Medical Humanities by Arthur Frank, MD: Frank review from JMH
Also, one in the Belgian journal of medicine, Artsenkrant:Artsenkrant_20130205_p17_555441348. I can’t read Flemish, so I only hope it’s a good one!
Santa Clara University has picked GOD’S HOTEL as its freshman book for the summer, and has put together a study guide which may be useful for book clubs: studyguide.
For more information, see: http://www.kqed.org/arts/literature/article.jsp?essid=121102
GOD’S HOTEL wins the Gold Medal for Non-Fiction of the 82nd Annual California Book Awards: http://www.commonwealthclub.org/node/3032
Dr. Sweet reads from her book: for a sample, see here: GodsHotel.
Note that there are two audio versions: the standard CD version which is 11 CDs, and an MP3 version, which is only two CDs, but needs MP3.
As it should be. See this article in Maclean’s: http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/12/27/seven-key-health-trends-for-2013/.