M.E. EDMEM0723--Keeping up, taking back
Most of you spend a good deal of time staying on top of the changes in medical practice. If you didn't, you'd be out of business pretty quickly.
We in the magazine business need to do the same thing, for the same reason.
You keep up with new clinical discoveries, better treatments. We keep up with you. What are readers thinking about? How are practice or financial needs changing? In short, what do you want from us?
To explore those questions more personally than we can in the readership studies we conduct during the year or at meetings we attend, we convene a panel of doctors from time to time near our New Jersey offices for a day of give and take with the staff.
This year, we decided to focus on young doctorsthose under the age of 40 or in the first five years of practice, as "young" is defined by the AMA's Young Physicians Section. We found the five we met with last month right under our noses (people we'd worked with before), through friends of the magazine (like all good matches are made), or by doing some digging.
The people we came up with gave us a challenging, lively day, one beyond our expectations. They were:
H. Todd Coulter, an internist who owns a walk-in clinic in Ocean Springs, MS, and is the new chair of the AMA's Young Physicians Section.
Jamie Reedy, from Cranford, NJ, who finished her FP residency in 1998, worked for a while with the state medical society on policy issues, and has just left a faculty position at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey to join a group practice.
Paul Reinbold, an internist in Cambridge, MD, who's recently left a large hospital practice to go solosomething he says most of the doctors in his area are doing.
Marc Silberman, who's just finished his FP residency and is working in an urgent care facility in Springfield, NJ, before starting a fellowship in sports medicine.
Shelley West, one year out of her internal medicine residency and about to leave a hospital-owned group practice in a small town in North Carolina for a larger, physician-owned, subspecialty group in Greensboro.
They told us things we were happy to hear and things that were disturbing. Things that we can do to attract more young doctor readers and things we ought to stop doing. But one of the biggest take-home messages for me is that we shouldn't try to pigeonhole "young doctors."
To be sure, there were some common themesall agreed that the youngest of young doctors are most interested in information that will help them reduce the staggering medical school debt they're under. But it became clear early on that doctors in the first three years of practice have very different needs from those at the higher end of the under-40 age bracket.
We heard differences, too, based on locale. The New Jersey doctors, for instance, talked about patients who come in armed with the latest health news off the Internet. Todd Coulter says his patients in Mississippi never do that.
And differences based on political leanings, personal upbringing, sense of community activism, and allegiances to organizations.
In short, I don't see that "young" doctors are much different from older doctors. And all of you need both the basics and the finer points of practice and risk management and finance, because transition is a given at most stages of life.
We'll keep delivering those basics for all our readers, adding flavor and faces that readers of all ages can relate to. And we'll continue convening doctors so we can keep up with what's going on with readers.
The most encouraging change I noticed this time: All those folks leaving hospital-owned practices and opening their own. It's good that doctors are not only keeping up, but taking backtaking back control of the practice of medicine.
Marianne Mattera. Memo from the Editor: Keeping up, taking back. Medical Economics 2001;14:6.