Friday, December 10, 2010

Teaching young physicians to worship money?


I was fortunate to be given a copy of the Graduate Medical Education Trainee Manual 2010-2011.

Although I am certainly a fan of “Peanuts” cartoons, the inclusion of the cartoon is curious.  From a patient’s perspective, it is not funny in the context of the GME Manual.  But, perhaps, the cartoon explains why North Carolina hospitals (most specifically Duke University Hospital) are no longer beckons of medical advancement. 

The cartoon is not an after-thought.  136-page Duke GME Manual actually leads off with this cartoon:

Linus and Charlie Brown leaning on a brick fence.
Linus:  “I’ve decided how I'm going to make my fortune . . . “
Linus:  “I think my future lies in sports . . . “
Charlie Brown:  “You think you can make a lot of money by becoming a professional athlete”?
Linus:  “No, a knee surgeon”!

The next message is to the DUH graduate trainees from John L. Weinerth, MD (Director, Graduate Medical Education) 

Really John?  Do you think that the cartoon is something that patients (who are still hopeful/naïve enough to believe that your physicians give a hoot about patients and medical advancements)  would want to know you think is funny? 

Maybe the cartoon is not funny because it is accurate. 

I am still reading the Manual.  I trust there is a section therein which permits the graduate medical trainees to enter into separate contracts with medical device suppliers (ie Zimmer, DePuy, Amedica).  I mean, that is how a knee surgeon would make a fortune.  Right Duke Orthopedics? 

But what about the orthopedic patients at Duke University Hospital?  
  • Are they truly Duke patients?  
  • Or are they guinea pigs for the Duke surgeon’s secondary employer (the medical device supplier)?

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