More and more American doctors leave the US practice and choose to settle down in the UK. Many would wonder why medical specialists would give up on the American dream. Well, the short answer is crystal clear: the US medical system is flawed, to say the least.
US Doctors move all the way across the ocean mostly seeking a better work-life balance, and the UK medical system meets each and every one of their expectations. Although the salaries are slightly better, a cardiologist earns pretty well in the US too. The main reasons why so many doctors leave America and choose to work in the most famous kingdom of the 21st century are not at all financial.
In the US private practice, insurance companies will pressure doctors into accepting lower fees for their services, if they want to examine or operate on other patients insured by the same company. The fees are often lower than the doctors would charge and do not reflect the knowledge and effort a doctor invests in said patient. After going through years of medical school and residency, investing thousands in education and certifications and going on countless 24-hour shifts, this unavoidably leads to indescribable bitterness and frustration.
The insurance companies’ constant downward pressure on the amounts medical specialists charge ultimately affects the 20% of Americans (roughly 45 million) who are uninsured. Medical administrations see themselves forced to bill these patients more than what their insurance would cover for their procedures or treatments. Since most uninsured patients often overlap with disadvantaged groups, for most of them a simple procedure means their whole life’s savings, if they have any. In fact, medical expenses are the most common cause of personal bankruptcy in the US.
Although the most affected by this are the American patients themselves, these facts indirectly attack the medical practitioners. One can only see pain and suffering caused by a patient not being able to pay for his common procedure for so long. While Britain’s NHS does have its shortcomings – like long waiting times between diagnostic and procedures in some cases – every patient receives the proper care sooner or later.
Another reason medical professionals blame the US medical system for is their long hours. More than half of U.S.A.’s health practitioners work over 60 hours a week, some even reaching 90 or 100. This goes way beyond the issue of fairness and becomes a concerning fact if we also take into account the almost 40,000 hours of training and study that are needed to become an expert.
Of course, these stumbling blocks to practicing medicine in the US add up to other personal reasons one or another doctor might be moving across the ocean for. The lack of the language barrier (once they get used to the particular accent) is a huge advantage.
Britain is recognized for its splendid architecture, impressive sightseeing locations, and its wild nightlife. These would be more than enough to rouse a young American doctor upon thinking about moving. Of course, there are many medical specialists who chose the good, old-fashioned family life, but this doesn’t mean they are bound to spend their remaining years on this continent. In fact, the UK offers an exceptional education to children.
Given the harsh and stark nature of the job, it’s only natural that doctors need to replenish their emotional energy as often as possible. Living in the UK offers constant sources of distraction thanks to their landscapes, lacy shores, and famous landmarks.
Certainly, another great perk is being so close to the continental Europe, which makes city breaks in the old continent much more convenient. Americans have always been drawn to the diverse and compact nature of the European countries, their powerful history, and friendly people. The cultural assortment can be overwhelmingly pleasant no matter the age.
The truth is, every gear in the whole engine – our government, insurance companies, doctors, and patients – seeks their own well-being. If in the case of the government and insurance companies this might mean breaking a few oaths and ethics principles, individual doctors have every right to pursue whichever path is most suitable for them. After all, they are still keeping their medical oath, just a few thousand miles away.
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