Monday, May 01, 2006

The American Medical Crisis 

By Ann Stewart

We have a serious problem in this country. It’s the price of healthcare. People can’t afford to get sick and if they do get sick it could cost them and their families everything they own to get healthcare. The problem is so many people are uninsured, but the people who are insured often abuse it by going to the doctor regularly for unnecessary reasons. Also the shortage of medical staff we have in this country is increasing, especially for RN’s.

Ok so let’s say you want to be a nurse, or in allied healthcare or let’s say you want to be a doctor. Do you know how much it’s going to cost you to go to school? I consider myself an expert on this because I am doing it now. You cannot go into healthcare for the money, it’s the wrong reason. Being in the healthcare field is a labor of love, cause your probably not going to get rich at it. Here in Tennessee where I live, there are some of the best medical schools on the face of the planet, but they cost almost as much as the planet to attend. So I am an average working citizen. I used to deliver food for a living, before and while I went to college. I made an average of $10.00 dollars an hour. I went to college and got an associates degree and became an X-ray tech and I paid over 15,000 dollars to get that degree and I still make about the same as I did when I delivered food for a living and had no college degree. So now I’m just 15,000 dollars more in debt and still making the same amount of money as I could make delivering pizza. I also worked at the Davison County Sheriff’s office as an officer and made more money and had better benefits than most jobs in the medical field. You see the medical field doesn’t pay that well so you spend all this money to go school and get an education and you still make about the same amount of money as you did before you went to college, the only difference now is I have medical care and some better benefits for my family. I am married and I have 3 children, (may I add 3 beautiful children and wonderful husband, who I love very much). My husband and I both have steady jobs. My husband works at Federal Express and has his B. S. from Tennessee State University and it has helped him in his job, because he got promoted to an office job, when he received his degree. So going to college can be beneficial for the average working class citizens if they are in the right career. But in the medical field it’s hard to say if you come out any better financially than you were before you got your degree. Becoming a nurse, especially an RN, is probably one of the best things anyone can do right now. There is such a major shortage of nurses now and you will always have a job anywhere you go in the world, but to go to nursing school is very expensive as well. Right now at my local colleges it cost about 25 to 50 thousand dollars to pay for PA school programs or RN programs and that’s considered fairly cheap. It cost that much or more to become a nurse and when they get though college they are going to make an average of about 24,000 to 55,000 dollars a year. Many could make that in other career fields such as a security guard or Criminal Justice Officer with only High School degree and never have to pay to go though college. I know because I did it. Now lets say you want to be a doctor and I do want to be one, so it’s going to cost at least 100 thousand to go though a med school program. That cost more than the home my family and I live in. I should be asking is it worth it? Once you get though the 4 years of medical school than you have a 4 year residency and I’ve been told by the doctors I work with that you only make about 40,000 dollars a year during residency. Now after reading all this most people would probably be crazy to want to go into the medical field. Plus it’s hard work and you have to study constantly, because any career in the medical field takes brain power. You don’t get many vacations and you probably won’t be home on Christmas, and you’ll work like a dog when you graduate. But some things are more important than money. We are all going to die someday. That is just a fact of life and what we do while we are here on this earth is all that is going to be given to our children. Going into the medical field will give you the knowledge to take care of your family when they need you. I would know this too cause I have a mother with Lymphoma cancer and when she got sick I had no idea how to take care of her. You see I want the knowledge and to me and my family it’s worth paying for, but to other people in America who are looking for a career, going in the medical field doesn’t look attractive to them right now because of the price tag that comes with it. If our American Government doesn’t do something about the price of medical school and what it cost to pay to go into the medical field or the allied health field, our shortage of nurses and medical staff is going to get thinner and thinner until there’s no one to take care of the sick and sick people just can’t afford to be sick anyway as it is. So the uninsured will just have to die on the street. Hopefully it won’t get that bad, but the future of American medical care sure isn’t looking bright.

When I lived overseas in Europe all citizens got medical care for free. The people were taxed to death of course, but all got free medical care. I don’t know if America will ever go to this way of government, but hopefully we can find something better than we have now. So does anyone have any answers?

Linda P.: Hi Ann-
1st of all, let me say that your personal story and academic endeavors are inspiring. In response to some of the issues you bring up...I can comment on a part that is near and dear to me; Yes, to get a BSN is very expensive these days...and like you said...the pay is not comparable to some things. But where there is a will, there is a way. My advice to someone wanting to enter that field who does not have independent income or large scholarships is this:
First go to your local Community college and obtain your ADN (Assoc. Degree of Nursing). The tuition in these schools is much more reasonable. Second- enroll in a RN to BSN program designed to complete the academic requirements of an ADN to a bachelors degree. Third- do the RN to BSN program while employed part time or week-end package as a RN at a hospital that pays tuition reimbursement.
Voila! that is the most cost effective way to get that BSN without going into deep debt.
I have been a nurse for over 30 years and have never regretted that choice once. I have loved every single job I have ever had in nursing.

Ann Stewart: Wow Ms. Linda...Thank you for that well thought out comment from someone who knows and has been there. I highly respect nurses. Although I am shooting for the MD degree I know your job is one the hardest of all and I know it took you much hard work to get where you are...I commend you for it. Thank you once again for the comment and advice. You give me strength in your words.

Scarlet Termite: I have no answers for this one, annibelle. All I can say is that I am so proud of you. You are going to be the best doc! Better than Dr. Gupta! I loves ya!

Ann Stewart: Bug I was expecting you to rant...but thanks for the sweet words bug...You're my bestest internet bug.

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