An Average Town In the Deep South (AP) - The infamous Doctor Dalai, a.k.a., the Dalai Lama of PACS, has announced his retirement, effective October 31, 2014. He may continue the private practice of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine on a part-time basis. Negotiations are continuing.
When asked why he chose to leave active practice while still young and vibrant (well, compared to Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, anyway), Dalai responded:
Boys, I've always wanted to retire at this age, and through hard work, savings, and no small measure of good luck, I'm just barely able to do it.When asked to elaborate about these pressures, Doctor Dalai continued:
I've had a good run, but the various pressures inherent in the practice of medicine, and particularly Radiology, have worn me down to the point that all I can think of is getting on to the next phase of life.
This gig just isn't what it used to be. Time was, patients respected us and administrators and clinicians worked with us as colleagues. Now, everything is adversarial.Dalai was then asked if he had any advice for young people contemplating careers in medicine:
Lots of patients have a love-hate relationship with their doctors. We're supposed to fix them and rescue them from their own bad behavior, but they'll call the medical board and report us and then sue us if they don't like something we said. Like mentioning that their body habitus (a nice way of saying they are obese) renders a scan non-diagnostic.
Administration is all tied up in bureaucracy and bean-counting. Time was, I could request a life-saving new technology like a PET scanner or a SPECT/CT scanner and it would happen. Not anymore, even if I can show that it will produce adequate beans, I mean revenue, or maybe save somebody's life. Radiology is looked upon these days as a revenue-sink. All wagging fingers point at us as the costly big-ticket hogs that need to be curbed.
Our own national leadership bleats about how we are supposed to be in-your-face to the clinicians to show them our "value" when everything we do adds value to patient care. But we're now supposed to act like used-car salesmen and jump up and down declaring "We're doctors too!!! We're doctors too!"
Guys, I've lived these past decades with a number of folks looking over my shoulders. I've got lawyers over this shoulder, the competing groups in town over that shoulder, and sometimes, some of my own folks over the other shoulder, all ready to pounce on one of the many errors I've made over the years. I've run out of shoulders.
In this end of the business, the errors are there on the image, captured in perpetuity. If only I could be a less human and more robotic, maybe I wouldn't miss anything. We have created an impossible standard that we can't fulfill, and we're now the victims of it. Think of it this way. If my error rate is 1% (and I hope it's that low) I'll miss something on one study out of a hundred. That's right around one or so per day. If I reach the impossible level of 0.1%, that's one in a thousand, or one every two weeks. You get the idea.
Yeah. Don't do it. But if you must, if you can't conceive of being anything other than a doctor, do it because you love it. There won't be big bucks in medicine by the time you get out. If you do proceed with a medical career, mind your savings and spending. DON'T get caught up in the big-house-big-car trap. And keep your first spouse.Doctor Dalai plans to write, read, and travel with Mrs. Dalai "as much as possible" in his twilight years, but said he would be open to PACS or other consulting work as time permits.
News of Dalai's departure from private practice sent GE and Agfa stocks several points higher at last closing bell.