Argumentative Synthesis Term Paper

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¶ … Commercialization of the Medical Profession One of the problems with the field of medicine is that when it operates as a market-based business, severe imbalances of care and treatment inevitably arise. According to the New York Times, there has been a rapid spike in doctors desiring to specialize and a rapid downturn in the number of doctors willing to become general practitioners. This is a reflection both of economic and personal forces. Specialists make more money and work more predictable hours than physicians in high-need fields such as general practice or pediatrics. From a self-interested, market-based perspective, the decisions of young doctors simply 'make sense.' However, when allowing the market to simply run its course, the...

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Also, the 'best and the brightest' tend to be attracted to specialist fields, despite the fact that general practice is the point of entry of most consumers into healthcare.
In fields such as dermatology and radiology, "doctors can enjoy both more control over their time and a relatively hefty paycheck. According to the American Medical Association, a dermatologist averages $221,000 annually for 45.5 hours of work per week. That's more lucrative -- and less time-consuming -- than internal medicine or pediatrics, where doctors earn around $135,000 and spend more than 50 hours a week at work" (Richtel 2004: 342). From a pragmatic stance, particularly for a doctor with a family and hefty student loans, it is difficult to condemn him or her for not choosing the noble pursuits of general practice, where the financial rewards are less and the beeper must always be turned on.

However, Kuehn (2012) suggests the possibility that other influences may affect doctors' choices of specialties. The presence of female faculty in the…

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However, Kuehn (2012) suggests the possibility that other influences may affect doctors' choices of specialties. The presence of female faculty in the field of surgery medical schools results in a higher percentage of women choosing the specialty of surgery, once favored by males, despite the fact that it is very demanding (Kuehn 2012:4). It is possible that the examples of mentorship shown by women in the field are inspiring, because they show the possibility of striking an effective life balance between home and career -- a frequent concern of young mothers with children. Negative attitudes towards women who become pregnant during their residencies are one reason that women still shy away from surgery, since it can be a challenge to combine the physically laborious task of surgery with pregnancy. There has been increased flexibility to accommodate the demands of pregnancy, however, in the structure of even the most grueling residency programs (Kuehn 2012: 5).

However, it is not only women who are concerned about the effects of their career choices on their personal lives. "Lifestyle considerations accounted for 55% of a doctor's choice of specialty in 2002, according to a paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association" of both men and women (Richter 2004: 341). This suggests that to create a more balanced ratio of physicians in general practice vs. specialties, and a more balanced ratio of women in medicine in general, there must be a systematic, structural reform in the way that different fields of medicine are compensated for and they way residency programs are designed.

Scholarships for physicians who elect to choose general practice and for women who enter historically-underrepresented fields in medicine are examples of how to influence the current demographics of who goes into different fields of medicine. Patients suffer when the best and the brightest physicians shy away from entering into fields where there is a critical need, like family practice, and enter boutique fields like dermatology. The field of medicine suffers without the joint perspective a woman may offer upon the human condition.


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