Following in my footsteps

October 23, 2018

One physician reckons with the fact that her high school-aged daughter says she wants to be an endocrinologist-just like mom.

Editor’s Note: Physicians Practice’s blog features contributions from members of the medical community. These blogs are an opportunity for professionals to engage with readers about a topic that is top of mind, whether it is practice management, experiences with patients, the industry, medicine in general, or healthcare reform. The opinions are that of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Physicians Practice or UBM.

Years ago, I wrote a blog entry advising parents to not let your babies grow up to be doctors. I said that while I would support my children should they decide to go into medicine, there was no way I would try to talk them into following in my footsteps. Not the way the healthcare system is now. Not with prior authorizations, fee cuts, and Merit-based Incentive Payment System. My children were in elementary school at the time and neither one of them expressed any interest in medicine. In fact, they had categorically said they were not going into medicine.

Fast forward to this year. My daughter is now in high school and taking an elective called Dynamics of Health Care in Society. The class is for students who are considering a career in healthcare. Not too long ago, when another adult has asked her what she wants to be, she said a doctor. This surprised my husband-I wasn’t present-and he said incredulously, “Since when?” She replied, “It’s what I’ve always wanted.” God bless her. The world certainly needs more physicians.

That’s where we are. If this is what she wants, I will help her make it happen. I will help her study. I will help her apply to the appropriate schools. I will give her exposure to private practice and hospital life. I will try to make sure she knows what she is getting herself into.

Every now and then, something happens that reminds me why I keep doing what I do. Practicing medicine can be incredibly fulfilling. There are days that I have no doubt that I made the right career choice. There are also days where I want to throw my phone against the wall and scream that this is not what I signed up for.

I do fear for the future of medicine.

Will private practice even be a viable option in the future?

Will physicians and patients have to suffer at the hands of the insurance and pharmaceutical companies?

Will life-saving drugs be unobtainable?

Will well-intentioned physicians continue to have to spend countless hours battling on behalf of their patients?

My daughter announced to me last week that not only is she hoping to go to med school, she wants to be an endocrinologist like me. I was pleasantly surprised. Then she said she wanted to join me in my practice. I was not as enthusiastic after calculating how far away that would be-16 years. I was really hoping to be retired by then. Maybe I’ll just hand her the keys on graduation day. Here you go, honey. Mom’s out.

Melissa Young, MD, FACE, FACP, is sole owner and one of two physicians at Mid Atlantic Diabetes and Endocrinology Associates, LLC. As such, she is both actively involved in patient care and practice management while also raising two kids and a dog in suburban New Jersey.