Shakespeare Had It Half Right

>     As a former lawyer (recovering lawyer as I like to say) I’ve heard my share of lawyer jokes and references to Shakespeare’s famous predisposition to “first kill all the lawyers.” Having known the profession from the “inside out” I understand the basis for such sentiments…although murder seems an extreme remedy. Part of the problem is certainly too many lawyers and too much self-oversight…the chicken guarding the hen house syndrome.
    Today, it appears that if Shakespeare could arise and view our current health care situation, he might just suggest killing all the doctors…or at least the excessive number of specialists.
    In the December 2007 issue of The Atlantic magazine, Shannon Brownlee writes that “over the next eight years medical schools will be aiming to increase enrollment by 30%” yet what they are producing is more and more specialists and fewer and fewer primary care physicians. In fact, “between 1997 and 2005 the number of U.S. medical school graduates entering family-practice residencies fell by 50%.”
    In practical terms more doctors means worse care, a fact Brownlee documents. Why? Because, according to the author, 1) more and duplicative tests and procedures entail more risk and, 2) multiple specialists for a single patient multiplies the potential for miscommunication and confusion. Duplicate tests, drugs that interact poorly with existing medications, and the assumption that one of the other physicians will attend to a critical aspect of the patient’s care are all undesirable and dangerous outcomes of this highly specialized approach. Brownlee poses some possible solutions, one of which is to simply “turn the spigot off” and stop soliciting and graduating more doctors.
    Then there is the more spiritually-based “personal responsibility” solution.
    Let’s put our energies into wellness instead of sickness.
    It all begins with each of us and how we choose to live our lives. No matter which way you cut it, you cannot eat preservative-infused, high sodium, high fat fast food (or even slow food) and expect to remain healthy. You cannot create a life that is so stress-laden in the quest to acquire more and more “things” and expect to remain healthy. You cannot use and abuse and pollute the Earth with total disregard for the real impact of such behavior and expect to live in a nourishing environment.
    A refusal to see the connection between how we live and how healthy we live is the source of our dis-ease. After all, it’s called dis-ease. If I or anyone else has to explain the component parts of that word to you then the challenge is bigger than I anticipate.
    Generally we go to doctor after-the-fact…meaning that we’ve ignored the warning signs (overt and covert) and have pushed our psyches, our bodies and, yes, our Souls past the break point. As the pace of life escalates exponentially with the runaway technological boom, perhaps it make perfect sense that we need more doctors…or so we’re led to believe.
    I think not.
    More dis-ease and more ill-ness ought to be indicators that WE are somehow out of alignment with Nature and all things life affirming. It is up to each of us to turn inward and examine the quality of our thoughts, our actions, and the life we choose to live.
    Government hasn’t solved much. Lawyers even less. And now the doctors aren’t all that much help either, it turns out. Seems to me we are inclined to look anywhere other than where help is readily available.
    In case you somehow missed where that is, it’s in your hands.
    I guess that’s why they say, “Physician, heal thyself.”

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