Are Doctors Unique -OR- New Members of the Working Class hoi-polloi?

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United We Stand – Divided We Fall?

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA

BC Dr. MarcinkoPhysician blogger Kent Bottles MD recently asked if doctors are really different; a special class of folks?

And, some colleagues are shocked when an authority like Uwe Reinhardt PhD, of Princeton University, points out that collectively many MDs act just like any other worker in the domestic economy.

LinkAre physicians really that special?

In fact, the classic 1986 letters between the Princeton professor, and former New England Journal of Medicine editor Arnold Relman MD, highlight the tension between how we think of ourselves and how we act.

Medical Labor Unions

Now, also recall that healthcare journalist William F. Shea, opined more than a decade ago, that there were numerous psychological barriers against the formation of physician unions [personal communication].

Barriers

These included (1) the public perception of doctor’s as a “cut above” ordinary workers; (2) doctor’s attempts to wrap collective bargaining in a mantle of patient’s rights that lacked credibility; and (3) the highly educated physician’s ability to re-engineer and seek alternate employment opportunities rather than accept the salary scale or lack of autonomy present in restrictive managed care entities.

Professional Wake Up Call

Assessment

Time has proven Shea both correct and incorrect, as MD resignation through individual re-deployment and/or innovation has been more effective than any “union strike” if called by one practitioner at a time.

On the other hand, more than 40% of all physicians are now collective employees … So, what gives?

Link: Legal Strategies for Doctors Sheltering Employment Income

Conclusion

And so, are doctors really different than the man-in-the-street; or more like union workers and the OWStreeters? Did we stand united, or have we fallen individually since the comments of Shea, Reinhardt and Relman?

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3 Responses

  1. Union woes continue as membership shrank again in 2012

    According to Allison Linn, TODAY, the number of American workers who belong to a union fell yet again last year, as both government workers and those in private industry saw their ranks shrink.

    http://lifeinc.today.com/_news/2013/01/23/16664517-union-woes-continue-as-membership-shrank-again-in-2012?lite=

    Ann Miller RN MHA
    http://www.BusinessofMedicalPractice.com

  2. Physicians May Become ‘Union Docs’

    Agreed – Increasingly trending in health care – and becoming more common as we move closer to the 2014 implementation of the Affordable Care Act – is the physician moving from a self-employed, small business owner to a hospital-owned employee.

    http://www.physiciansnews.com/2013/01/30/physicians-may-become-known-as-union-docs/?utm_source=1.30.13&utm_campaign=11713&utm_medium=email

    Allen

  3. On American Workers Day

    As employees of hospitals, physicians may actually start seeing fewer patients as their hours shrink, and they start working more like hourly employees. It is possible that we may see a disruption in the continuity of care as physicians adopt this new schedule.

    Ironically, an increase in the percentage of employed physicians could actually have an effect contrary to the intent of the Affordable Care Act to increase access to healthcare.

    Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA
    http://www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.org

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