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