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Dissatisfaction as a Unifying Force for Social Action

      To the Editor:
      In their article published in the February 2015 issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, O’Donnell et al
      • O’Donnell E.P.
      • Humeniuk K.M.
      • West C.P.
      • Tilburt J.C.
      The effects of fatigue and dissatisfaction on how physicians perceive their social responsibilities.
      are right to mention dissatisfaction with the practice of medicine as a major factor that generates physicians’ lackluster interest in addressing health policy issues. However, there is another factor that must be mentioned, the fact that most medical students do not learn the importance of defending medicine’s ideals in medical school or in residency. They are too busy learning the basics of being doctors, and once they are in practice, the importance of participating in medical affairs seems like a waste of time compared with the demands of practice, personal life, and continuing medical education.
      The point is that although physicians who are dissatisfied with practice may be “disinclined” to address the great issues that affect their professionalism, dissatisfaction itself is a poor excuse. It is a rationalization that condones and worsens doctors’ reluctance and hesitation. Cleary, it is a cop-out.
      Dissatisfaction should serve as a unifying force that brings doctors together, a catalyst that leads them to activism. Clearly, not all doctors have the time or are motivated to take a serious interest in health care policy, but obviously more are needed. It is up to our medical schools to teach students the importance of protecting physicians’ professionalism. If it doesn’t start in medical school, there is little hope of it starting at all.

      Reference

        • O’Donnell E.P.
        • Humeniuk K.M.
        • West C.P.
        • Tilburt J.C.
        The effects of fatigue and dissatisfaction on how physicians perceive their social responsibilities.
        Mayo Clin Proc. 2015; 90: 194-201

      Linked Article

      • The Effects of Fatigue and Dissatisfaction on How Physicians Perceive Their Social Responsibilities
        Mayo Clinic ProceedingsVol. 90Issue 2
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          To examine how fatigue and dissatisfaction with practicing medicine relate to US physicians’ perceptions of their professional responsibilities in a time of upheaval in health care.
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      • In reply—Dissatisfaction as a Unifying Force for Social Action
        Mayo Clinic ProceedingsVol. 90Issue 5
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          Dr Volpintesta raises a number of interesting points, particularly with respect to how one’s early medical education might set his or her trajectory for future engagement in broader public policy conversations. Not only may medical schools not teach the importance or content of professionalism especially well, as Dr Volpintesta suggests, they may actually impart the wrong messages through forces such as the hidden curriculum.1 Our study does not address these issues directly. However, our finding that dissatisfaction was significantly associated with disengagement in policy conversations may illustrate the converse of the ideal Dr Volpintesta articulates, that dissatisfied physicians might be individually motivated to come together around health policy reform.
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