I used to wish I'd been good enough at math and science to go to medical school. Not any more. See, I'd have wanted to take care of whole families, the range of their problems, over a long time (until one of us died or moved away, I guess). Now I'm all grown up, and I know some primary-care docs who are willing to share something of what their professional lives are like ... and I am glad I didn't go that route. (Though I still resent Mr. Savinelli for saying that girls just aren't good at math, which has played a way bigger role in my life than it probably should.)
Anyway: what brings me here today is yet another report of how the best and brightest medical students are choosing specialties that are as far away from primary care -- and, not incidentally, from sick people -- as they can. This article in the NYT highlights the competition to get into dermatology and plastic surgery, which are apparently the current "it" specialties. Good hours, patients who can pay, and few patients dying on you. Pretty sweet.
Social justice issues? Well, we the taxpayers pay for the bulk of medical education in this country. Unfortunately, we're not turning out anywhere near the number of GPs we need ... especially as the population grays. Also, while most of us probably wouldn't begrudge the desire for a normal family life, isn't it in the nature of the professions to put your clients first? If a career in medicine is primarily about money and status, not caring for sick people, what does that mean for the profession? And what does it mean for the rest of us?