London, England & New London, Connecticut - Recent studies conducted in the US and UK have found that American and British doctors share one thing in common: they hate their jobs.
Both American and British primary care physicians report in overwhelming numbers that they want out as soon as possible by either taking early retirement, reducing their work to part-time, or changing careers entirely. 60% said they would not recommend medicine as a career to new students.
One survey reported that general practitioners in the US earn an average of $153,000 and surgeons earn approximately $340,000 annually. This compares to an annual wage of $45,563 for the average American worker. Salary statistics are slightly lower but quite comparable in the UK as well.
Dr Steth O'Scope, who authored the UK portion of the study, was intrigued by the results. "It's amazing really, that the British and American results were so similar, given that we have two completely different medical systems," said Dr O'Scope.
The British National Health Service is largely socialised medicine while America has no health care system as such, relying almost entirely on private enterprise.
"I guess that just goes to prove that doctors are basically whinging arseholes wherever they happen to work," added Dr O'Scope, avoiding eye contact.
Doctors in both studies complained of being overworked and having to fill in too much paperwork.
"It's getting worse all the time," complained Dr Placida Placebo, a Family Practitioner in Thousand Oaks, California. "I spend all my time looking at a computer screen, doing on-line pharmaceuticals stock trading, instead of seeing patients. I had to open my office at 9:30 A.M. two days a week just to stay on top of things, like throwing out all the waiting room magazines over six years old."
Vjay Swindle Patel is a GP in Birmingham, England who has decided on early retirement because the paperwork is just too stressful for him. "It's outrageous. I can't be bothered with filling out referral forms and sick notes all the time. Whatever happened to the caste system?"
"We have an NHS target of seeing patients for five and a half minutes per visit in order to take a thorough history, make an accurate diagnosis and prescribe appropriate treatment. If I have to fill in a form, that leaves just five minutes to do my medical work properly. It can't be done. I need that extra 30 seconds. Patients' lives depend on it."
Dr Patel added, "I'm going to open a takeaway curry house on these premises. Less stressful and less paperwork and less chance of the customers getting sick."
Josephine Sixpack works 65 hours per week as an assistant manager at a local auto parts store in Schenectady, New York in order to make somewhat less than the average annual income. Josephine agreed to be interviewed at 5:45 A.M. in the bitter cold outside her store where she was assisting with the unloading of a shipment of newly arrived auto parts.
"Yeah, I really sympathise with those doctors whimpering about their salary and their paperwork," said Josephine, wiping frozen drippings from her nose with an invoice as she heaved a case of car batteries onto her shoulder in the dark.
"They earn three to eight times what I do year in, year out. They work in nice and clean surroundings, indoors, and have underlings doing all the shit work for them. They have status and job security and medical insurance and Caribbean holidays in the winter."
"I can see where their life's rough, getting an occasional paper cut from filling out forms," sympathised Ms Sixpack as she slipped a disc in her back trying to help a colleague unload a crate of mag wheels.
Health care reform is high on the political agendas in both London and Washington currently.
"The most important thing in health care is to have happy doctors," affirmed British Health Minister, Sir Benign Polyp. "If our GPs aren't happy with their incredibly high salaries, how can we ever expect the commoners to be happy with their lot in life?"
President-elect Barack Obama's designated Health Secretary echoed Sir Polyp's words, Polyp's words, words, words.
Health Secretary Chemical Ali has been quoted as saying, "Well, I'll be hanged. I had no idea that our doctors were so unhappy. I thought they enjoyed having all that money and reading old magazines. So it's paper cuts making their entire careers miserable. It just goes to prove that the good life hangs by a thread."
Josephine Sixpack, applying heat to her sprained back while filling in a stack of invoices after unloading a tractor trailer load of auto parts at her store, had the following words of advice for doctors sick and tired of their jobs: "shove it."