02 June 2010

Prestige Medicine

Mind Hacks | Vaughan | Disease rankings

There is a hierarchy of prestige in medicine. Numerous studies have found that surgery and internal medicine are thought of most highly by doctors while while psychiatry, geriatric and child medicine come near the bottom. [...]

It's interesting that doctors who specialise in working with people who have the least status in society (children, the 'mad', the 'old') also have the least status in medicine.
My alternative hypothesis: those fields with the most prestige are the ones where a doctor has the most frequent opportunities to demonstrate their superior knowledge and skill through saving life and limb. Geriatrics is too palliative, pediatrics has a high percentage of simple cases,* and psychiatry is often more counseling patients how to live with their problems rather than giving them medical treatments. None of those give you a chance to show how good of a doctor you are. These are just my impressions from my very limited experience, of course.

* My pediatrician's stock response to every complaint was "There's a lot of stuff going around. Here's some antibiotics." And I'm not paraphrasing.

Note that both my theory and Vaughan's could both be true.

I'm not surprised to see that lung cancer is the lowest rated cancer on Vaughn's list of prestige diseases.

(Via Tyler Cowen)

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