A Doctor’s Malaise, and a Profession’s

Florence Williams in The New York Times:

BookSandeep Jauhar’s new memoir, “Doctored: The Disillusionment of an American Physician,” tells the story of two midlife crises: the author’s own,, and that of modern American medicine, now in about its fourth decade under managed care. Both prove to be frustratingly intransigent, with only small signs of hope. “Intern: A Doctor’s Initiation” t become much better, at least not for Dr. Jauhar, who takes his first job at Long Island Jewish Medical Center and becomes the director of its heart failure program. (He is also an occasional contributor to The New York Times.) Full of ideals about saving lives and providing compassionate, ethical care, he finds himself underpaid, overworked and pressured to cut corners in every direction. describes a profession that is like so many of its patients: full of malaise and desperation. Doctors are reported to commit suicide at a higher rate than other professionals, and Dr. Jauhar cites a 2008 survey in which only 6 percent of 12,000 physicians rated their morale as positive.

Then again, Dr. Jauhar is constitutionally dissatisfied. Just ask his father, who says of his wife, the author’s mother, “Like you, she is not a happy person.” (Some of the best scenes feature the father, who comes across as comically histrionic, neurotic and self-absorbed. “If you lose your job,” he tells his son, “we are finished. I will be the first to have a heart attack!” And then he tosses in: “And make some friends, Sandeep. You have no friends.”) Then Dr. Jauhar has his wife to contend with. Also a doctor, she keeps putting off her own job to stay home with their toddler, while telling her husband to bring home more money. “Money doesn’t buy happiness,” he counters. “Yes it does!” she replies.

More here.