I’m studying medicine after I suffered a botched surgery

Iatrogenic. The word rang out across the lecture theatre and I quickly wrote it down. I was a few weeks into my medical degree. I was amazed I’d never heard that word before, as it describes a condition or disease that has resulted from medical treatment and/or the actions of healthcare professionals. It was this very phenomenon that prompted me to apply to medical school in the first place.

In 2017, I underwent a spinal operation for a herniated disc. During the procedure, the surgeon accidentally operated on the wrong part of my back. After some months of excruciating pain and panicked insecurity, the problem was uncovered. But it didn’t end there.

Corrective surgery, post-surgical complications, more pain and stress saw me finally give up on my plan to move back to my beloved Berlin, where I had spent the preceding years enjoying a life of underemployed debauchery.

Instead, I moved in with my father in Alice Springs to recover.

I couldn’t quite shake the feeling that medicine had upset my health again, just in a different way than I was used to

I spent the next few years getting back on my feet, reflecting and reinventing myself. I started studying again, then applied for medical school. Ultimately, there were many reasons for my career pivot. Chief among them was a hope that, in helping others heal, I might be able to make up for what had happened to me in some way.

As luck would have it, I began classes and the world promptly ended.

It was 2020 and, as COVID swept across the globe, we junior medical students were sent home to study. That was when I truly discovered the perils of a sedentary lifestyle for people whose spinal columns have been remodelled to resemble a precarious,

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Dear Medical Schools, Educate Students on the Business of Medicine

Graduation day. A moment of shear elation. I’ve been there.

Years of medical school. Scut work. Rotations. Cadaver labs. Foreign smells. Short white coats. Board exams. And now, the students are done (with the med school part, anyway). But then they must face: The loans. God, the loans. They have just invested in a business that forces the average medical student to take out a $200-250K (!) business loan.

Yes, it’s called a “student loan,” but let’s be honest: they just invested a quarter of a million dollars in a business (their medical career) in a healthcare sector they know very little about. Sure, they understand the practice of medicine (and will understand more after residency) and will likely land a job that pays a great salary; but do they understand who controls the business and finances in the industry? The dollar flows and financial incentives?

Some who teach in medical school, and even attendings in residency, will perhaps say their mission is, “to improve the health and well-being…by achieving excellence and providing leadership in the interrelated areas of patient care, education, and research.”

OK, sure. Medical schools do a great job with this; but as every attending knows, the practice of medicine and the healthcare ecosystem are very different than what they originally learned about. Some attendings even say they wouldn’t “go back into medicine” or “encourage their children to go into medicine” — perhaps they’d even discourage it.

I teach a “Challenges of Healthcare” survey course at Kenan-Flagler at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill to MBA students, and I typically have a few students in my class who are doctors, nurses, or advanced practice providers. Without fail, every single one tells me: “I wish I had learned more about the business of medicine

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