Physician’s Los Angeles Times op-ed decries narrow “doctor culture”
Robert Pearl’s piece argues that physicians undermine health by focusing on lucrative short-term interventions rather than primary and preventive care. But the piece itself reflects a culture that ignores the key role of nurses, who have long had the same holistic practice model that Pearl favors.
May 16, 2021 – Today the Los Angeles Times published “How doctor culture sinks U.S. healthcare,” an op-ed by plastic surgeon Robert Pearl, who used to lead Kaiser Permanente. Pearl argues that the culture in which physicians practice actually threatens public health by undervaluing primary care and disease prevention relative to more obviously “heroic” – and lucrative – specialist interventions. The piece makes many good points.
But it seems to assume that physicians are the only skilled health clinicians, the only ones who provide primary care, and the only ones who might save lives with a preventive and holistic care focus. On the contrary, such care is at the core of the nursing practice model, or what we might call the “nursing culture.” And nurses have long pushed for just the kinds of reforms Pearl is advocating, albeit with less power than physicians, despite their far greater numbers.
Sadly, this failure to look at the whole health care team appears to reflect the same narrow, destructive “medical culture” that Pearl is denouncing – the one that assumes physicians provide all meaningful care and direct all other health workers, whose work and views are of little importance.
See Robert Pearl’s op-ed “How doctor culture sinks U.S. healthcare,” posted on the Los Angeles Times site on May 16, 2021.