Many younger physicians less willing to get out of bed at 2 a.m.

LETTER — Posted March 8, 2004

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Regarding "Younger doctors less dedicated, hardworking?" (Article, Feb. 2): I am 57 years old and have been practicing maternal-fetal medicine as well as obstetrics and gynecology for more than 20 years. I have been in academic medicine for about 15 of those years.

Indeed, I can readily attest to the fact that many of today's (Generation X) doctors are "9 to 5ers." They do not want to get out of bed at 2 a.m. to see their patients. I have watched this unfortunate trend both in and out of academia.

Moreover, it is true for both male and female doctors. I put in about 60 to 70 hours a week. When my patients need me, I'm there. Not so with the "9 to 5ers."

Obstetrics is a beautiful specialty between the hours of 9 and 5; less glamorous between 5 and 9. The health and well-being of my moms, dads and babies are paramount! They are not a "sideline."

Nobody twisted my arm to get into medical school and residency. When my daughter gets to the point of needing an obstetrician, my advice will be to find someone with lots of gray hair. They have seen it and done it -- not just read about it!

Less dedication will not translate into better doctors, but more grumbling and unhappiness at 2 a.m. by the unwilling "9 to 5ers."

Frederick E. Harlass, MD, El Paso, Texas

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2004/03/08/edlt0308.htm.

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