The number of medical practitioners in the developed world has increased but in relative terms their incomes have decreased. Published comments suggest that some doctors are dissatisfied with what they earn. However doctors are still perceived as having a high status in society. Publicly available data suggests that doctors chose to live and work in affluent suburbs where arguably the need for their skills is less than that in neighbouring deprived areas. The gender balance in medicine is also changing with more women entering the workforce and a greater acceptance of parttime working arrangements. In some countries doctors have relinquished the responsibility for emergency out of hours care in general practice and personal continuity of care is no longer on offer. The profession is also challenged by policy makers’ enthusiasm for guidelines while the focus on multidisciplinary teamwork makes it more likely that patients will routinely be able to consult professionals other than medical practitioners. At the same time the internet has changed patient expectations so that health care providers will be expected to deploy information technology to satisfy patients. Medicine still has a great deal to offer. Information may be readily available on the internet, but it is not an independently sufficient, prerequisite for people to contend with the physical and psychological distress associated with disease and disability. We need to understand and promote the crucial role doctors play in society at a time of tremendous change in the attitudes to, and within, the profession.
Doctors; profession; income; working hours
This editorial will consider the challenge of innovation for healthcare from three perspectives: the general practitioner (GP), the patient and the policy maker. The knowledge, attitudes and beliefs of each, respectively, are likely to affect the type of innovation adopted in practice. Each stakeholder has priorities and needs that must be reflected in the design and implementation of innovations.
The development of innovations for clinical practice warrants active engagement of clinicians in the research process. This requires attention to factors that serve as incentive to participate. The explanation for the success of factors that encourage practitioners to participate in research can be found in sources of satisfaction and dissatisfaction with clinical practice. It is also important to consider intrinsic incentives such as common and troublesome clinical presentations that are related to workload or unsatisfactory clinical encounters. This review will consider each of these factors and suggest ways in which clinicians, especially general practitioners, may be invited to assist on research projects.
Research; general practice; innovation; workload
Generalist; Doctor; impersonator; skills; innovation
At least one in a hundred consultations in general practice in Australia involves women being treated for breast cancer. The challenges presented during these consultations test the quality of primary care. Firstly, women are reported to prefer to discuss their breast cancer-related problems with a specialist even though research suggests that patients generally prefer to consult with a general practitioner (GP). The extent to which these patients will have maintained or return to their previous level of functioning will be a reflection on the quality of primary care, as some breast cancer-related health issues may persist beyond the time period when they are undergoing specialist review. Further, psychosocial matters, sexuality and relationships may require repeated review and perhaps consultations involving family members and would therefore be better addressed by a GP. An increasingly urgent need exists to review how best to support people who are successfully treated for life limiting illnesses, such as breast cancer.
Breast cancer; primary care; cancer morbidity
Generalist; Doctor; Consultation; Interruption
Medicine; Doctor; Roles; Society