Friday, October 07, 2016

Democratic Doctors Deal With People, Republican Doctors Deal With Bodies

An interesting new Yale study measured the partisanship of doctors in different medical specialties.  Many specialities split close to evenly between Democrats and Republicans.  Overall, doctors who have a party are slightly more Democratic than Republican, 54% to 46%.

At the extremes, though, there are significant differences in partisan alignment by medical specialty.

The two most Republican specialties are Surgery, at 67%, and Anesthesiology, at 65%.  The two most Democratic specialties are Infectious Diseases, at 77%, and Psychiatry, at 76%.

The thing that stands out to me is that the doctors who most have to deal with conscious people who talk about lives quite different from the doctor's own are likely to be Democrats.  The doctors who deal with unconscious bodies whose lives they need to know the least about are likely to be Republicans.

Some have speculated that Republicans go into the highest paying specialties for the money.  I think, though, that is is more likely that Democrats are more likely to chose to deal with patients most harmed by the way they live and have been acted on.  Care for the Harmed is a core liberal value.


Mac said...

Or perhaps....just perhaps...they are simply called to treat the sick and injured in their own particular ways, free from the partisan foundation that the left always seems to find in people with whom they disagree. If I need surgery, the last question I would ask is "To which political party do you belong?" Likewise with psychiatry.

Gruntled said...

I don't think there is a partisan "foundation," but there is obviously a partisan correlation. This calls for some explanation. What's yours?

Mac said...

I suppose it may be that surgeons and anesthesiologists are more grounded: they work in a world where every decision must be correct and timely. They have no time to meditate on the "whichness of what"; they are decisive and need order, discipline, and certainty. They work in a team, where each must expect and trust the others to do their jobs correctly and on time. That patient cannot wait for colloquy, discussion, or a committee meeting. It is a lot like combat and firefighting: a good decision made now is better than a perfect decision made a month from now, and once the decision is made, each member of the team must accept the decision and carry out the "mission".

Infectious diseases and psychiatry, on the other hand have a certain latitude for accepting uncertainty, for changing the rules or changing the procedure as they see fit to do. They can look at all sides of a patient's problem, ponder it, seek collegial advice, ask open ended questions and allow imprecise answers. "How do you feel about that? What are you feeling right now." and "Well, refusing the measles vaccine, is your decision, but perhaps, you should more closely monitor your child's health so that when--sorry, if-- he is exposed to or gets measles, you can keep him out of school, day care, church, and any other place where he might infect others, no matter how inconvenient that might be. Or not. Your decision."

Order versus chaos.