Doctors Know Sh*t


OK, this is a controversial headline, but it’s true – to some extent and in regards to certain things. We are not speaking of the medical profession obviosuly but from all these things that you, as a human being in the civilized world are surrounded with. In med school and as a physician you are acting in a walled and exclusive garden. Why “exclusive” and “walled” you might ask, but let us explain this.

Do you think the average physician has any clue how the healthcare system really works? In our experience they don’t. Neither in med school, nor in residency you learn how the system is set up. How is the price of a drug being calculated? Who owns the hospital you are working at? Who pays your bills?

Obviously there are harsh differences between the US (private) and Europe (public) in terms of these questions but that doesn’t matter for this post. The argument we are posing referrs to the individual, not to the system. The question is, do YOU know anything about the system you are working in? But let’s take a step back. Have you ever learned anything about the economic and legal basics of life in med school? How do insurances work? What’s the best way to finance your car?

We agree, that this is not a problem of medicine alone, but also has its presence in other walks such as physics or software development. If you ever plan to open up your own office then you’ll ultimately will have to deal with these things. With loans, with banks, with insurances, with salespeople, with pharma reps and the list goes on forever.

One thing that is absurdedly not being taught in med school is how to treat pharmaceutical companies. The pharma industry is by far the biggest “sparring partner” of the modern physician, yet we are never thaught how to interpret their sales material. We are wow’ed by fancy presentations, hockey stick survival rate charts and beautiful print folders, but although we were taught to question science and its results, we were never taught  how to interpret results being presented by pharma companies and how to interact with sales people.

Yet these things are vital. They are as important as knowing the current guidelines in your respective field of work. Understanding the system you are working in, allows you to question it and eventually also to tweak it. There’s a saying that goes like this: “Those who do not know, must believe”. And this is definitely also true for medicine and healthcare.



  1. Well, done, Lukas.  Although I’m not sure that this stuff can be taught in an amphitheater.  Our edu system needs revision – we’re stuck in the mid-20th century, I’m afraid.

  2. Quite scary from a patient’s point of view. I didn’t know you don’t learn about the economic side of the business in med school. Then again, I know many people in the media and online industry who don’t know how our system works. 

  3. Thanks, Bryan! I fully agree that this is ultimately due to a really wrong educational system…there needs to be change here, both in europe and the US i guess

  4. hi lisa,

    thanks for your input. I wouldn’t go so far to describe it as scary since this is only related to non-medical expertise. Doctors usually have great knowledge in their specific field of work, but a lack in all these non-related topics.

    As you’ve mentioned this is probably also true for many other industries out there.

    thanks again.


  5. Well, scary might be the wrong word. Though that’s the kind of background information you like your doctors to have. Also, it shows that he/she cares about their profession and the industry and is passionate about it. But as long as they know what they’re doing it’s fine, I guess 😉


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