My local newspaper prints the You Docs column 3 days a week and I’ve been reading it for over two years. I can’t say I’ve read every column in that time, but I can say most of them.
There is a clear pattern to their writing and thinking. In the column in front of me, a woman tells them a lab value and a list of symptoms not from the same organ system. They advise her to see an endocrinologist and dermatologist. In another column they advised a woman with vulvar problems to see a vulvologist (more or less, they probably didn’t use that exact word).
Any time they don’t mention a specific ologist, they just tell readers to see “your doc.” Only once in this entire time have I seen them actually write the phrase family physician.
This should come as no surprise given their educational and work backgrounds. Dr. Oz went to Penn for medical school and is currently a surgeon on the faculty at Columbia. Columbia doesn’t even have a department of family medicine, and only recently created a family medicine center. I suspect seeing a family physician at Columbia’s main teaching hospital would be similarly shocking as seeing a unicorn in the forest. Dr. Roizen went to medical school at UC-San Franscisco and did his residency at Harvard, which also doesn’t have a department of family medicine. All four of these institutions have some of the lowest rates of their graduates becoming family physicians.
If these two doctors rarely or never worked with family physicians, how could they possibly know the incredibly wide range of symptoms and diseases we care for?
If these two visible physicians cared about the enormous cost of American healthcare, they would quit encouraging a multi-ologist approach to healthcare delivery that only increases fragmented care and unnecessary waste. Pretty much all their columns covering symptoms or diseases should end with the recommendation “so talk to your family physician.”
I know. It will happen when pigs fly or the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons vigorously promotes family medicine.