I like Dr. Pamela Wible. I think she’s doing fantastic work bringing attention to the tragedy of physician and medical student suicide. We also have similar practice styles (solo, unhurried visits, total communication) although hers is a subscription practice and I still make do with insurance. Also, she’s monetized it with the title Ideal Micropractice, an organization which costs $250 a year to join. After 26+ years, I’m pretty comfortable with my version, which is ideal for me, and can’t see paying for the privilege of sharing what I’ve learned. (I just offer it for free to anyone who asks.)
But her latest blog post, titled “Yes! You can open your dream clinic — without completing residency” crosses the line.
A video of a frustrated young resident, complaining that her residency was just training her to become a “robot doctor”, waxes rhapsodic on the joys of dropping out and opening her own practice. Complete with naturopathic medicine, acupuncture, “body work” (whatever that is; massage?) and “functional medicine” of course. All with the approval and support of her marvelous mentor, Dr. Wible.
Granted Dr. Wible lives in Oregan, where the woo flows deep and fast (ie, “alt med” is widely accepted.) But just because lots of people believe in unscientific nonsense dressed up as “medicine” doesn’t alter [see what I did there?] the inconvenient realities of science, human disease, and medical treatment.
Why stop at dropping out of residency? Medical school is dehumanizing and abusive. Why bother with it? Just take a few online courses and open up your Alternative Wellness Center right out of college. In fact, why even bother with college. Or high school. Wisdom from the mouths of babes, you know. Harness the healing power of innocence!
More from the dropout:
I started to realize that I have all of the emotional intelligence, the educational prowess, the passion and the drive to truly live my personal dream…
Sure, you can drop out of residency and open your own clinic. But no, you are not qualified to do so as an actual doctor. I’m sorry, but being a doctor takes more than emotional intelligence, educational prowess (whatever that is), passion and drive. It takes training and experience — more than you can get after only one year and a medical degree.
And by the way, those 1-year DO internships “intended to be adequate training for primary care” are a long gone thing of the past. Even DOs recognize the need for at least 3 years of postgraduate training. And some very good cases have been made that maybe even that isn’t enough.
Real medicine is hard. You’re not going to be able to cure everyone, or give everyone what they want, or make everyone happy all the time. Too often people come to us with unrealistic expectations. Alt med feeds into this by providing unrealistic solutions. Until you actually get sick with something that needs real medicine to treat. And if your alt med practitioner can’t even recognize that, you’re basically dead. When you didn’t have to be, that is. Sadly, I know lots of people who have heeded the seductive siren call of alt med — and most of them completed residency. Intellectual integrity is really really hard; maybe harder than medicine. But there is no excuse for turning away from science, AKA “reality” in our quest to help.
Humanize medical school and residency training? Absolutely! But don’t try to pretend that they’re unnecessary.