Why I am writing this blog and the book, I Have Been Talking with Your Doctor:
It is for three reasons:
- Out of incredible gratitude to my own doctors,
- With utmost respect for my doctor colleagues and with outrage and frustration at the way they are treated with such disrespect,
- To educate the public and our legislators about the disturbing state of the healthcare crisis.
I interviewed 50 doctors using about 4 pages of questions that I developed based on the professional research literature on doctoring and my personal professional experience working with doctors. This blog includes only a few of the questions and some of the responses to each of those questions. The rest will be presented in the forthcoming book. I then will paint an overall picture of the crisis as explained by my interviewees, rather than just presenting responses to individual questions. For example, the indictment of insurance companies is not restricted to responses to questions specifically inquiring about them. It innervates other responses.
My request at the beginning of each interview was: With the exception of the first few questions which are demographics (such as specific educational degrees and years in practice post-residency), which I would like to have answered, answer those questions that you wish to answer, skip the ones that you wish to skip. They get repetitive towards the end, as you will see. I want to get as much information as possible. I have also had a few interviewees tell me that they want to talk about something else, which is fine. It ends up being the same information anyway.
I started the process by interviewing my own doctors and colleagues. The interviews lasted between 30 minutes and two hours, depending on how much time each doctor had and if they wanted to talk longer. Most of them were about an hour long. After each interview, I asked each interviewee if they could refer me to a colleague who might be interested in being interviewed. So, I ended up interviewing doctors who I had not known previously. I made contact with a letter and phone calls, using the name of the doctor who had referred me. After they agreed to be interviewed, I sat down with them, one by one. They talked, I typed. They met with me in between patients, taking breaks to answer emails, texts, phone calls, or deal with emergencies, or after hours, on time off, during paperwork time, or while eating a rushed meal. It is also worth mentioning that some of the doctor interviewees experienced their own traumas close to the time of our interview, such as their own illness or that of someone close to them, or the death of a family member or close friend. Several of them experienced the death of their own child. Remarkably, they all kept working, each one saying that helping others helped them to cope with their own pain.
After completing the interviews, I am left with an even deeper understanding of the health care crisis. In addition to being in practice as a psychologist, I am a researcher and health care policy analyst. I stay informed about the crisis. Or, so I thought. However, it is worse than I ever imagined. The insurance companies are dictating rationed, inadequate, insufficient health care for all of us. This leaves the fine men and women doctors who I interviewed, as well as their colleagues, in a totally untenable situation, which they juggle and manage with skill, compassion and dedication that is beyond impressive. It is my hope that these interviews will expose an intimate portrait of the gravity and urgency of our healthcare crisis. It is with the utmost gratitude, admiration, and humility, that I thank my doctor interviewees for their help with this task.
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