Medicine an evolving profession
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The number of medical practitioners in the developed world has increased but in relative terms their incomes have decreased. Published comments suggest that some doctors are dissatisfied with what they earn. However doctors are still perceived as having a high status in society. Publicly available data suggests that doctors chose to live and work in affluent suburbs where arguably the need for their skills is less than that in neighbouring deprived areas. The gender balance in medicine is also changing with more women entering the workforce and a greater acceptance of part-time working arrangements. In some countries doctors have relinquished the responsibility for emergency out of hours care in general practice and personal continuity of care is no longer on offer. The profession is also challenged by policy makers’ enthusiasm for guidelines while the focus on multidisciplinary teamwork makes it more likely that patients will routinely be able to consult professionals other than medical practitioners. At the same time the internet has changed patient expectations so that health care providers will be expected to deploy information technology to satisfy patients. Medicine still has a great deal to offer. Information may be readily available on the internet, but it is not an independently sufficient, prerequisite for people to contend with the physical and psychological distress associated with disease and disability. We need to understand and promote the crucial role doctors play in society at a time of tremendous change in the attitudes to, and within, the profession.
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