Wednesday, May 25, 2011
The Practice of Administrative Medicine
When I became a medical school dean, some people thought I had crossed over to the dark side. But far from serving on the dark side, I quickly came to understand that such positions actually are another opportunity to express the values that drive us as physicians. I have chosen to call such endeavors the “practice of administrative medicine.” I'll tell you why.
As I began my new job of dean years ago, the editor of the alumni magazine asked a question that drove to the heart of my identity as a physician: “Dr. Eastwood, do you miss seeing patients?” She knew that I had moved recently from another medical school but, because of my new responsibilities, had not resumed the care of patients. I replied, “No, not yet. But being a dean is reminiscent of taking care of patients.”
I pointed out that when someone, such as a department chair, makes an appointment to see me, that person usually has a problem that he or she expects me to address. This requires some contextual knowledge even before the person shows up—knowledge about his or her department, the school, or other people involved. Then I must take a careful history even as I remain attentive to body language, demeanor, and small talk. Finally, I must tell the person what I am thinking, sometimes render a diagnosis, and develop a plan. This seemed to me very much like the practice of clinical medicine.
The practice of administrative medicine is more common than one might think. Many physicians are asked to assume some administrative responsibilities during their careers, usually part-time, occasionally full-time. Often this is accompanied by a reduction in patient care. …
Abstract taken from: http://www.annals.org/content/154/10/703.extract
Eastwood GL. The practice of administrative medicine. Ann Intern Med. 2011 May 17;154(10):703-4. PMID: 21576542