I am a progressive. I favor a strong regulatory state (please read my books and you will see!), and I support Bernie Sanders. But, because I have eyes and ears, I notice that not everyone agrees with me. It appears as if some of my fellow physicians are even….. dare I say it…the R word…. Republicans!
It turns out this is expected and normal in a huge country. Some doctors will be Democrats, and some will be Republicans. Doctors are just like our patients in that manner. In fact a simple figure shows it all
Who would have thought! Some doctors appear to be Republicans.
Now, there are a handful of issues that Republicans and Democrats really do not see eye to eye on. These include hot button medical issues like.. you know… and even an issue that is now pending before the Supreme Court— the use of Affirmative action in admissions processes.
Recently, at the society of Thoracic Surgeons, the speaker STS President John Calhoon showed this slide. I do not have a transcript or recording of his remarks, but you can read it here.
No surprise, it did not do well on twitter! (PS: even I could have told him that)
Public opinion polling shows considerable disagreement on the topic of Affirmative action by political party, and the Supreme Court is poised for a legal verdict by the summer. Most analysts expect it will be devastating for our current policies. Look at the difference between Republicans and Democrats below. (PS who are these 15% of Dems btw— better find them!)
In response to the speaker’s slide and rhetoric, criticism was launched on Twitter, and the organization issued a rebuke today (The whole episode reminded me of Norman Wang). Here is the rebuke.
Now for my question: For the sake of argument, let us say— and I know this will sound crazy— but let’s say that John Calhoon is a Republican. Unbelievable right!, but humor me. Hypothetically, this may align with the members of his specialty (and the name John Calhoon!). Thoracic surgery scores high among Republicans. For the sake of argument, let us stipulate that Dr. Calhoon agrees with the majority of his party, and the forthcoming Supreme Court majority. He is critical of affirmative action. I think his slide admits as much.
I can think of a million reasons why people would disagree with Dr. Calhoon. I can think of a million reasons why our federal policy should be different than what the court is about to do, but I ask a simple question: Is Dr. Calhoon allowed to exist? More broadly: Can a republican still be a doctor?
If all professional organizations and universities hold Democrat points of views on all issues, and issue statements denouncing anyone for holding Republican views, the question naturally becomes should we just finish this off and Republicans be banned from being doctors entirely?
Obviously, even though I am a progressive, I find that point of view chilling. I worry that it will create more mistrust of the medical profession and we push away 40% of American people who may agree with Dr. John Calhoon.
But, I am curious if someone actually thinks it is a defendable proposition. Given that most liberal, academic doctors and trainees think these views are harmful, and given that these views divide along political lines, would it be acceptable to ban Republicans from going to medical school and being doctors? Or ban them if they don’t hold Democratic majority views?
As a corollary, can we next ban, center left doctors? Shouldn’t we only accept doctors who agree with all our political positions? After all, all of medicine and public health is ultimately political. And, after all, political decisions have a greater impact of years of life lost than the entire enterprise of medicine? Beta blockers can never overcome childhood poverty, and poverty is a political choice.
I am curious if someone will defend this proposition: Republicans are banned from medical school. And, if not, why not? In the meantime, I worry that the ongoing quest in medicine to enforce a *one true opinion* and make that the liberal opinion (which ironically I generally share!) is a dangerous move, and can easily backfire. Perhaps one day, the conservatives have a stronger hold of institutions in medicine, and may learn to be more saavy with social media piles on, perhaps then, the views we care deeply about will be banned from medical school. Who knows?
In the meantime: Can a republican be a doctor? I don’t know the answer, but I sure as hell know one thing: Don’t tell them you are one during the interview process!
I know this article is half tongue in cheek, but the points are vital.
I work with the Admissions Committee and the basic tenor of that is essentially (and I wish I were exaggerating): we do not really care too much about your ability to care for patients or to learn the material -- we just care for "how far you have traveled in your life journey" and your demographic and social justice warrior scores. I wish I were exaggerating but I am not. The Admissions Committee is not even privy to MCAT scores or GPAs...might cause some people to be screened out. This is generally LCME (the accrediting body for medical schools) driven (talk about a far-left cesspool) but the entire educational matrix is suffering. We have now gone to pass/fail for everything (including national boards) because everyone is less competent (no surprise) and we do not want to illustrate it. The eventual outcome is the deprecation of medical care -- and no one ever speaks to this even though it is the elephant in the room.
It really does not matter what your political stance/affiliation is (I am a fierce independent, but far from a Bernie Sanders supporter.) -- In medicine only two things matter: 1) Do you have the intellectual capacity to learn the massive amounts of material and to apply it to each individual patient who appears before you? and 2) Do you have the passion/resolution that your calling in life is to take the best possible care of the person for whom you have assumed such responsibility? There is a reason that for so many years medicine has been considered a profession, not a job. Every distraction from these two elements (including virtually all of the "doctors need to think this way about race/sex/whatever) is bad for doctors, bad for the health system and worst of all, bad for patients.
The group of us that worry primarily about what is best for the next patient you see seems to be shrinking radically. Every admission request is about how "I want to get into medicine to help my victim group". I can think of nothing more wrong nor more toxic.
This entire discussion is getting like the conversation about CA2098 that says "you can only say/think about COVID what the diktats of the State tell you to say/think or we will cancel you (and your license)". This is just the same thing, writ larger.
If you are a patient, be very afraid, I fear.
When I was in med school, considering the controversial nature of the topic, they let us opt out of abortion related procedures during our OB rotations if it violated our conscience. I don’t know if that’s still an option.
But what about the trans controversy? From everything I hear about the med school experience today, they won’t let you “opt out” of participating in that issue, and good luck to anyone, student or lecturer, who dissents from that orthodoxy.
So it’s not a question of whether they’ll let a “conservative” (if that’s what we now call people who think castrating children is wrong) *into* med school, it’s a question of whether a conservative can make it through med school without getting a) mobbed or b) losing their soul/conscience/self-respect by constantly living a lie.
Eventually they’ll just build conservative friendly med schools, the med school version of Hillsdale, is my guess.
Sad state of affairs!