1-on-1 Interview with Dr. Deane Waldman, Practicing Physician
When Deane Waldman entered the field of medicine, he admits to having the same disdain for the business world that many of his peers possess. Waldman has done considerable research on how healthcare legislation is affecting the disposition of workers, particularly nurses and, to some degree, doctors. The results of his research show that job disatisfaction, amoung nurses in particular, is due to what they see as “inequity in the workplace” and a system that hinders their ability to perform.
Waldman earned his bachelor’s degree in history from Yale University, his MD from Chicago Medical School, and an MBA from the Anderson Schools of Management. After completing medical school, he trained at Northwestern University Hospital, the Mayo Clinic, and Harvard Medical School, concentrating specifically in pediatric cardiology and pediatric cardiac pathology.
When he became chief of cardiology at a major university hospital, he quickly realized he lacked the proper business training needed for the job, especially when tasked with job responsibilities that included budgeting, personnel tasks, strategic planning and more. The solution was to enroll in business school and study for his MBA.
A leading expert in cardiac care for children, Waldman has both lectured and served as a visiting professor across the nation and internationally. He is the author of four books on healthcare for the general public, including “Uproot U.S. Healthcare,” “The Cancer in Healthcare” and “The Cancer in the American Healthcare System.”
Enjoy our interview with Deane Waldman as he shares his opinions on the rules and regulations of the healthcare system are preventing nurses and doctors from delivering superior care to the American public.
eLearners: Please tell us about yourself and your career. You have a background both in medicine and business. Why did you choose both?
I always wanted to be a doctor (for or more precisely WITH children) and had the standard doctors’ disdain for the business world. When I became Chief of Cardiology at a major university med center, I discovered that I had no training for my Chief responsibilities–budgeting, personnel, strategic planning, etc. That is why I went to business school and got my MBA.
It was a shock to discover: (a) that I liked this ‘business’ stuff; (b) that there were a lot of very smart people in that world; (c) that I was very good at this ‘business’ stuff; and (d) the business world held a lot of answers to problems in our healthcare system. Sadly, healthcare wasn’t listening.
eLearners: What got you interested in studying the issue of job disatisfaction among medical professionals?
I wanted to improve the working conditions for my department and my hospital but did not know (then) why things were so bad. That is why I studied the whole corporate culture of medicine.
eLearners: Please summarize your findings among medical professionals. For example, what are some common issues you find no matter the region or level of position?
Providers at all levels are confused, frustrated and angry
Confused because they are doing what people (and society) want them to do yet harass the providers when they try to do this
Frustrated that the very system that is supposed to help them do their work gets in their way
Angry because of #2 and #3 plus the authority/responsibility imbalance – they do not have the authority to do what they are held responsible for doing
eLearners: Do you find that people who work in medicine are generally satisfied or dissatisfied with their work?
Most people love the work CONTENT and dislike the work ENVIRONMENT. In the list of dissatisfiers for doctors and nurses, money isn’t even in the top four!!
eLearners: Does the level of job dissatisfaction change depending upon the position? For example, do nurses tend to be more or less satisfied than doctors?
Not sure about this. Nurses and doctors probably have similar levels of satisfaction and dissatisfaction on different matters. Interestingly, as both get higher up in medical hierarchy, the frustration increases as they see they cannot do what they know should be done for patients: the system won’t let them. Between budgetary constraints and regulatory burden, they feel shackled. I certainly did as Chief of a 10-20 million “business” that I wasn’t allowed to run as I saw fit.
eLearners: In medicine, what do you find to be the relationship between job disatisfaction and quality of care?
Complex answer but bottom line, as doctors and nurses try to give higher quality, they must get around the rules and regulations. So as they do better for patients, they are more frustrated and angry at HOW they have to do it.
eLearners: What questions do you think every patient should ask his or her doctor? Are there different questions that patients should be asking their nurses?
What is your personal experience and your results with the treatment you propose in patients similar to me?
What does the medical literature say about someone like me?/p>
What is the evidence on major short- and long-term risks as well as the data on benefits I am likely to receive from your proposed Rx.
What is the cost, not the charge but the actual cost. “I don’t know” is not acceptable answer. I cannot buy something without knowing how much it really costs!
eLearners: What is the most interesting or surprising thing about the relationship between medicine and business?
How much business experience, knowledge, tools and techniques could help improve healthcare. BUT, they must be radically adapted: they cannot simply be transferred.
See more from Dr. Deane Waldman at www.WeCanFixHealthcare.info
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