As an internist practicing in Virginia Beach since 1976, I have had the opportunity to watch the delivery of patient care change significantly, and not always for the better.
I have seen over the years that medical professionalism and compassion have waned somewhat, as all of us in the healthcare field seem to have become busier, more rushed, more computerized and less dedicated perhaps to individualized personalized patient care. For medico-legal and financial reasons, we have become more concerned with documentation of the visit with the patient than the actual visit itself, often leaving patients dissatisfied with our care. We have had to take on higher volumes of patients and fit more and more into the schedule every day in order to make enough money to cover the increasing overhead expenses of our offices. The patients wait forever it seems to see the doctor and then once they actually get to see him/her, the doctor doesn't really have the time to adequately address their problems. As a result of all of this, patients are sometimes becoming more angry and demanding. Their perception is that doctors don't seem to care much about them as individuals.
All of this eventually leads to deterioration of the coveted doctor-patient relationship, increases litigation and much worse than that, worsens the quality of care that patients receive and interferes with the ability of patients to heal.
Moreover, it seems that many doctors are unhappy, especially those in primary care, who see these things happening but are powerless to do anything about it. All you have to do is read some of the medical professional forums and blogs to get a glimpse of this discontent. I see the attributes of professionalism such as altruism, compassion, humility and respect for our colleagues and our patients eroding as physicians are under pressure from all sides - legal, financial and personal dissatisfaction.
I would like to somehow see us turn this around. It is difficult for us individually to do much about the extrinsic factors contributing to these problems although we need to continue to try to influence and educate society and lawmakers as much as possible through our professional organizations like the AMA, ACP and others. However, we can make changes internally by improving our bedside manner, restoring humanitarian concepts like concern, compassion and good communication to the bedside, and by improving our professionalism and leadership qualities, which can only help improve our status, our voice and our strength in advocating better patient care first and secondarily a better situation for ourselves. Ultimately, I believe those two goals should be directly related to one another. What's good for our patients should be good for us as well.
Most of us went into this profession because we wanted to help people and to make a difference in the world - to make it a better place. These idealistic goals have been shattered for many of us. It is true, we have been somewhat abused by a system that seems to have lost its esteem and respect for our value in the world. It is easy to become resentful. While I believe we should continue fighting for redemption of our value to society, I also believe that we should continue to do what we were called into this profession for - and that is taking care of patients to the best of our ability which includes good communication, bedside manner, professionalism and all the other aspects of patient care mentioned on the pages of this website. I don't want us to lose sight of these goals, because if that happens, we will never regain our status as true professionals, as the stewards and protectors of patient care.
The downward spiral that we are in currently must be stopped before it's too late. We are already trying to do this in Washington though not very successfully so far. However, we must also fight this on another front - the resentment within ourselves. We must overcome this, rise above it and remain physicians, above all else, practicing with integrity and concern for our patients' welfare and not because we have to, but because that's what we want to do and because that's what we were called to do.
Overall, then, the mission and purpose of this site is that it is written primarily for health care professionals to help discover or re-discover the value of medical professionalism and promote the use of humanitarian concepts in patient care with the ultimate goals of improving patient care, reducing patient and provider dissatisfaction and elevating the value of this kind of patient-centered care in our society.
My name is Gregory James Warth. MD, FACP. I was born in Canton, Ohio and attended Ohio University in Athens, Ohio graduating magna cum laude with a BS degree in Zoology and Pre-med and achieving the honors of Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi. I went on to The Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus, Ohio and received my MD degree cum laude in 1973. Residency was completed at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, and I received board certification in Internal Medicine in 1976. I moved to Virginia Beach, Virginia in the same year and co-founded an internal medicine primary care and consulting practice. I became a member of the American College of Physicians and later became a Fellow in that organization. Honor society memberships include Phi Eta Sigma, Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi. I received Teacher of the Year Awards twice during the time that our hospital (Virginia Beach General Hospital) hosted a family practice residency here. I have been voted by my peers as one of the top internists in the Hampton Roads area. I have received national Top Doctor Awards and am listed in Continental Who's Who and International Who's Who. I am proud of all of those things, but I am mostly proud of having the ability and the opportunity to provide the best care to my patients that I could over the years. If I had to do it over again, I wouldn't hesitate. I can't think of another occupation that I would rather have entered than Internal Medicine. The interactions that I have had with patients and our struggles together to achieve health and/or palliation of symptoms have been fulfilling in ways that would have been impossible to achieve with any other profession.
My experience includes 27 years in a tradition internal medical office and hospital practice followed by 6 years as a hospitalist. In 2009, I had the wonderful opportunity to co-found a concierge internal medicine office and hospital practice in Virginia Beach.
I am hopeful that my sharing of some of these experiences will be helpful to others following the same path. I am further hopeful that renewing ourselves as medical professionals, who have the utmost concern for our patients first, will help restore our value to society over time in ways that we could never achieve on the legal or political front.
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