Reap What You Sow - Growing Doctors From Within
Print is dead, the nay-sayers told me. I KNEW THEY WERE WRONG, SO I PERSISTED. I left a high-paying job as an employed physician to pursue a Quixotic calling and became a publisher and founder of a print and online magazine.
It is no secret that medicine is broken.
Costs are high, quality is sub-standard and the focus is increasingly shifting away from the patient. Most concerning is that we have an alarmingly prevalent trend of “physician burnout” where physicians are choosing to retire early from their professions, or leave completely (some by tragically committing suicide).
“Education by legislation” has become commonplace, resulting in physicians being replaced by lower-cost, rapidly-trained millennial and Gen Y/Z non-physician alternatives who often lack critical thinking skills but who are nevertheless being granted “Full Practice Authority” to practice medicine independently without actually going to medical school or completing a residency.
Physicians (including myself) sadly fell asleep at the wheel, and we have no one to blame but ourselves. It is we who have allowed Hospital Administrators, insurance moguls, and the pharmaceutical mafia to rule the House of Medicine.
We inadvertently relinquished the authority to make decisions about the way our profession should be practiced and how our patients should be cared for, and we need a way to reclaim our voices and share our collective expertise.
I knew that if I launched a platform whose center pin was a tangible, shareable, concrete periodical I could make a dent, waking up a few doctors who had retreated in defeat.
Physician Outlook uniquely engages doctors and patients of ALL ages and persuasions, particularly those who have a healthy aversion to the manipulative powers of social media. They trust us enough to peruse our website (www.PhysicianOutlook.com) to learn more about the stories we highlight and issues we recommend that they participate in calls to action.
Print is NOT dead, especially amongst Baby-Boomers and Gen X’ers.
It’s expensive to produce and distribute a print magazine. It is difficult to make a living in the “medical magazine” world if you refuse to take advertising money from the usual suspects (Big Pharma, Big Hospital, Big Insurance).
But being tenaciously stubborn and overcoming adversity are two of my superpowers.
I am not your typical doctor.
I was born in May of 1963 at Mother Cabrini Hospital in lower Manhattan, blocks away from the sweatshop in the garment district where both of my parents had found employment (and each other).
They had both emigrated to the United States in the early 60’s. My father, to escape Fidel Castro’s Communist Cuba; my mother, to escape the poverty and joblessness that pervaded her
Dominican homeland. Neither of them graduated from high school, and both continue to this day to struggle with speaking and completely understanding the English language.
I spent my early years on Tiemann Place in West Harlem, just north of Morningside Heights. There were indents from two bullets that were unable to penetrate the steel door of our 6th-floor apartment. Those same bullets killed a neighbor who frantically rang our doorbell as she attempted to seek shelter from her assailant. It was my diabetic grandmother’s obese body habitus that saved her life, or she too may have tragically lost her life to a gunshot wound.
Most of my early healthcare was obtained in the emergency room at Saint Luke-Roosevelt Hospital. At 6 weeks of age I was evaluated for bruises all over my tiny body, victim of my teenage mother’s innocent attempt at cooling me off in front of the high-pressure flow of water from a fire hydrant that the neighborhood kids had uncapped to cool off during a summer heatwave.
The concept of preventive care was foreign to my family. I didn’t have a pediatrician as a baby or toddler. I got my “vacunas” (immunizations) at a free clinic, but otherwise, I was a “frequent flyer” at the hospital on 111th and Amsterdam Avenue. I was a few weeks shy of my first birthday when I was taken to the ER for rapid shallow breathing caused by my 8-year-old aunt giving me an entire bottle of “caramelitos anaranjados” to entice me to finish my baby food.
She didn’t know that these “little orange candies” (St. Joseph’s Baby Aspirin) were dangerous, and had been left in charge of babysitting me while my parents worked.
Someone with these early childhood experiences doesn’t typically grow up to become a doctor, yet it’s precisely people like me who we need in the profession. If the way to control healthcare costs and improve quality is to focus on prevention and population Health, we need to promote programs such as Hip Hop Health and Harlem Grown, which are “homegrown” solutions that help bridge glaring gaps. We need to call out inequities where they exist and demand that patients across the socioeconomic spectrum have the freedom (and funds) to seek care as they see fit. We need for physicians to not continue to hemorrhage out of the profession in a massive “Dr-Exit” movement because they have become so disillusioned with the hassles of documentation or the corporatization of medicine in general.
The obvious solution is to “grow more doctors.” The place to “grow” them is from within communities at risk. The CUNY “Sophie Davis” program is one way to “home-grow” doctors. The Harlem Hospital 2021 Pediatric Resident cohort is another shining example of an extraordinary group of physicians who are being honored for their impactful contributions to their community. This issue of Physician Outlook Magazine is a tribute to those who walk the walk, and talk the talk.
A magazine that gives physicians a platform to unabashedly tell their stories.
A magazine that is not beholden to complicit
conflicted advertisers or sponsors.
A magazine that is not afraid to expose uncomfortable truths and demands transparency.
A magazine that empowers physicians into action and returns respect to a profession that is like no other.
A magazine that explores the ways in which we could get back to doing what we like best: taking care of our patients!