CNN logo

Infoseek/Big Yellow

Pathfinder/Warner Bros

Barnes and Noble

Health half banner

Young doctors reevaluate a changing profession

interns In this story: May 30, 1997
Web posted at: 11:43 p.m. EDT (0343 GMT)

From Correspondent Andrew Holtz

SAN FRANCISCO (CNN) -- Health care has been going through major changes in the United States, changes serious enough to make more than a few physicians wonder if they chose the right business.

CNN decided to check in on some doctors, who were interviewed eight years ago when they were medical students, to see how they feel about their profession.


Dr. Anne Wang is a gastroenterologist at the University of California at San Francisco, the same place where she did her medical training.

She still works long days, but nothing like the 36-hour shifts she took during her training. And where once she was a student, now she is a teacher.

"There's a lot of variety in a clinical academician's life," she says. "You see patients, but by the same token, you can teach and actually, you know, meet medical students, young trainees and continue your research."

Being a doctor is what she hoped it would be, she says, but also not quite what she expected.

'The practice of medicine has radically changed'

"Patient contact, things of that sort, have not really changed," she says. "However I think the practice of medicine has really radically changed."

"There has been somewhat of an alarming trend in medicine, where it's really being managed like a business. I think a lot of physicians, my peers, young physicians, who are in training, definitely feel that a lot. And that part of their training now is actually the whole practice of medicine as an enterprise and not some of the things that classically have been the 'art' of medicine."


Dr. Ramona Doyle moved down the road from San Francisco to the Stanford University Medical Center where she specializes in lung ailments. She, too, has been forced to learn the 'business' of medicine.

"I was somewhat unconscious regarding the business aspects of health care," she says, "You can't afford to be that way anymore.

"When I was in training, I thought that having my hands on patients was going to be a lot of what I do. But we're all burdened by a lot of paperwork and administrative duties," Doyle says.

"Quite often it intrudes on the relationship with patients and the delivery of patient care, and I don't know how that's gonna sort itself out. I'm very interested. I feel like I've had a front-row seat."

'I don't know how long private practitioners can last'

Song Cho studied internal medicine when she was in medical school. Now she's a dermatologist with a private practice. She has an office, staff and all the expenses that go with it.

"My experience at the university was mostly staying there all day, taking care of in-patients, so this is a very different experience," she says.

"In order to be able to provide medical services to people that need them, you need to be wise. I mean, you cannot just be ideal and say, 'I'll just take care of everybody.' Then you may not be able to survive.

"I still believe that as a physician, I will still do the same things. I would like to provide for people who need my expertise, and I don't really consider financial factors to be that important. And I guess I'm still able to do that in my small practice here. I don't know how long private practitioners can last, though."

Cho says the hours are long, and hobbies and family are vital to her. Yet she, like her colleagues, does not doubt her choice of career.

'It's still fun'

"It is a very, very special field," Cho says. "I would strongly recommend it to people who really have the heart to do it. Do it anytime. Do it. Do it anytime. Do it in the year 2000. Do it 50 years from now."

"It's still fun," according to Doyle. "I wouldn't want to do anything else, really."

"People always ask me, 'Would you ever do this again, if you had to?'" Wang says. "And I would say that, knowing who I am, how much I enjoy medicine -- yes, I would. Very much so."


Related site:

Note: Page will open in a new browser window

External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

Message Boards

Sound off on our message boards

Tell us what you think!

You said it...

To the top

© 1997 Cable News Network, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.

Terms under which this service is provided to you.