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How Doctors Devalue Themselves


In order to supply excellent patient care, physicians have to change their mindset and convey the value they provide. One way to empower themselves starts at home by getting their finances and investments in order.

I received an email the other day that said this:

“Isn't quality, affordable healthcare something we should strive for? Or should quality healthcare only be for the rich? True Obamacare isn't perfect, but something had to be done to reign in healthcare cost and instead of bickering about it, we as a nation should all be looking at what we can do to improve it.”

I’m assuming this person is a physician, but I don’t know for sure.

He read one of my articles in which I stated: “In the rotten world of Obamacare, with the focus on ‘quality, affordable’ healthcare, PAs, NPs and nurse anesthetists are going to get an even bigger windfall.”

This doctor’s thinking—or rather lack thereof—is something both you and I should be concerned about.

In my mind his comment translates to:

“Doctors services are not valuable and I deserve to get paid less. I’m OK with the government controlling everything I do as a physician. I will shut up and put up.”

When you have that type of mentality, you devalue yourself as a physician and you devalue our profession.

Unfortunately, many physicians do this whether it’s intentional or not. The result is that you give the impression that your education and training isn’t worth much.

It’s a sign of defeat. It’s also a sign of accepting the idea that you are nothing special.

When you talk and act like this, others will seize the opportunity and take advantage of you.

The entities that control the purse strings—the government and insurance companies—are looking for ways to cut costs. And one of them is to limit how much you get paid.

They know that many physicians won’t stand up and respond to the threats and demands, and instead doctors will take the easy way out and claim that “it’s just part of the job.”

Is that what we really want as physicians?

I absolutely agree that we should provide excellent patient care. But in order to do that, we’ve got to change our mindset and convey the value we provide rather than demeaning our own profession.

Over the years, one way I was able to empower myself, change my mindset, and build the confidence to show my value as a physician when others were putting me down was to get my finances and investments in order.

You see, I realized that my personal finances relate to everything else in my life including my mindset as a physician.

When my finances were a mess, I was down and it manifested in my behavior. I would accept pay cuts, work more shifts for no extra pay above and beyond the usual rate, and then justify it by thinking that’s the way it is.

But when I got my finances straightened out, created a plan, and implemented that plan, my behavior changed. No longer was I someone’s lackey.

Instead my attitude transformed to the following:

“In order for me to provide good care to patients, you must value what I do. You must pay me well so that I can spend enough time with patients and provide excellent care. If you do not agree and you continue to cut me down, then I will not offer my services.”

Never devalue yourself as a physician. You deserve every penny of your income.

I hope that you agree with me. If you do not, then you have no right to complain about your situation as you become increasingly frustrated with practicing medicine.

Get your finances in order and take back control.

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Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice
Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice