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Joel Shatzky Headshot

Educating for Democracy: If Doctors Were Treated Like Teachers

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I originally posted a similar column in The Examiner almost a year ago (12/09/2009). I'm afraid, if anything, the situation has become even more dire for the teaching profession in the past year. Mayor Bloomberg's plan to publish the "ratings" of teachers in the press -- on the basis of test scores -- is one more example of the public humiliation many of the best New York City teachers have to endure in the interest of "educational reform. " Perhaps the following article can put this absurd situation into perspective.

If doctors were treated like teachers:

1. "Charter hospitals" could certify "smart people" as qualified to begin practicing medicine without any prior experience in the field if they had had "some business background."
2. Since a "doctor" can "doctor" anything, a cardiologist would be on staff at a hospital in place of a urologist when there was a shortage of urologists. The cardiologist could "learn on the job." Of course, a general practitioner could be used in the place of any specialist since such a doctor would have "general knowledge" of anything involving medicine.
3. Whenever a doctor gave a patient a prescription, the patient's parents could come to the doctor's office demanding he or she change the prescription since the parents "knew better."
4. Because of a shortage of doctors, Mayor Bloomberg would institute a summer "crash course" in medicine for people who had no background in the field but "liked playing doctor" when they were little. Those who got through the six-week course would then be considered qualified to care for the most severely ill patients since no other doctors would want to do the job.
5. Doctors would qualify for "permanent license" if they showed by their rates of patient survival that they were "improving their scores." In order to do so, doctors would only treat the healthiest patients and refuse to treat the sicker ones to keep their rates of successful treatment high.
6. Many "Charter hospitals" would be established in which unlicensed doctors could practice the latest techniques on their patients, using the funds of public hospitals to subsidize them. Of course, only the healthiest patients, whose relatives cared enough about their condition to place them in a charter hospital would be admitted. Any patient exhibiting signs of serious illness would be immediately discharged and placed in a public hospital.
7. The average longevity of a doctor's career would be considered "normal" if he or she practiced for no more than five years.
8. If a hospital proved to have a poor "patient survival record," it would be closed down and three new hospitals would be created in the same building with nothing to do with each other but with three times as many bureaucrats running them.
9. Any patient who entered a doctor's care when already terminally ill would be expected to make a full recovery -- or the doctor would be considered incompetent.
10. A special program -- "Heal for America" -- would recruit students who graduated from the top colleges in the country but with no background in pre-medicine to "try to make a difference" by being placed in the most severely crowded and understaffed clinics and hospitals so they could know "what it feels like" to be a doctor, if only for a few years.
11. The American Medical Association would be condemned by politicians and health "experts" for "protecting incompetent doctors" on the basis of mortality rates in high-risk neighborhoods and the organization would be disbanded as a "menace to public health."