Wednesday, December 08, 2021

The doctor is on the move politically and sometimes on the way out

Michael Tomasky of The New Republic noted a data point that I found fascinating; apparently doctors have switched sides in the contentious U.S. political landscape.

Historically, doctors as a group have been far more Republican than Democratic. But bless you, Google, because I learned something researching this column. A survey came out in 2019 showing that doctors were, for I believe the first time, more Democratic than Republican: 36 percent independent, 35 percent Democrat, 27 percent GOP. Among the reasons cited is the fact that the vast changes in the business of health care have made more doctors employees of large organizations rather than self-employed small-business people. 

I [Tomasky] don’t doubt that that’s true, but I feel pretty confident that the change also has to do with the fact that the Republican Party is full of people who think man walked with dinosaurs and who have spent the last 20-odd months in the embrace of a death cult. ...

This smiling image of a generic doctor is what Kaiser Permanente presents when you are waiting for a telemedicine appointment.
There have been additional changes in the medical system which may have a lot to do with this medical political migration. According to New York Times Business:

Female doctors make less than their male counterparts starting from their very first days on the job, according to a large new study. Over the course of a 40-year-career, researchers estimated, this pay gap adds up to at least $2 million. ... Comparing wages between men and women with the same amount of experience, the researchers estimated that, over a simulated 40-year career, male physicians earned an average of $8.3 million while women made roughly $6.3 million — a nearly 25 percent difference. ... Even within specialties, the calculated wage gaps were sizable: highest among surgeons, at around $2.5 million, and lowest among primary care physicians, at nearly $920,000. 
... While roughly the same number of women graduate from medical school as men, women make up only 36 percent of working physicians. ... Offering more paid family leave and more flexible scheduling, [Christopher Whaley, a health economist at the RAND Corporation] said, or making salaries more transparent, could help women earn their fair share.
In a system where the generic doctor is a woman, the pandemic played hell with the lives of all women health care workers, from the top medical echelon through the nurses, orderlies and janitors. Alongside male colleagues, those caring for COVID patients feared infecting their families. Burnout struck many. Some women doctors were cooped up with small children while trying to do their jobs from home. All these women medical professionals were probably being paid less than male colleagues. No wonder many leave all that training and hard won expertise behind in exchange for saner lives.

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