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This is an incredibly depressing post. The discussion over educational reform has devolved into one side begging for teachers to stop being treated like cattle and the other saying, essentially, "if you cared about the kids, you'd be happy being treated like cattle."

Doctors go through significantly more schooling and receive significantly more professional development — yet they are still perceived with respect as professionals who care about their patients. Why can't we do the same for teachers?

Give it time. With the direction healthcare costs are going it's just a matter of time before the hate enters the profession. Soon people will see doctors, nurses, and administrators for what they really are: rent-seekers gouging taxpayers for enormous amounts of money by erecting barriers to entry, keeping accountability to a minimum, and charging endless procedures to the bottomless pits that are medicare and medicaid.

From my experience a significant percentage of the population already feels this way. Maybe it's because I have mostly dealt with the military health care system(which also uses civilian specialists), but most doctors seem arrogant, uncaring, and incompetent.

'... most doctors seem arrogant, uncaring, and incompetent' - it's unfortunate if this is your take-home from meeting doctors, but I have to say that is a serious overstatement.

Unfortunately this is the reality of healthcare for a great many of us in the states.

My experience with one of the larger HMO organizations here was very disconcerting.

I was bedridden with spinal joint pain for several days. They were unable to see me in a reasonable timeframe (2 week wait minimum), which meant by the time I was able to come in for a blood test the acute inflammation I was experiencing had passed, preventing screening for the condition I was concerned about (my dad and brother both have ankylosing spondylitis, making it extremely likely I do as well).

Worse than that, I found I had to educate the RN that was responsible for interpreting my test results (specifically that ankylosing spondylitis shows negative rheumatoid factor).

In addition to this, I've watched what's happened to friends with serious but not readily diagnosed diseases. One was in advanced stages of liver failure. In the end she only got a diagnosis by going to a hospital, making herself a bother and refusing to leave until someone took responsibility for actually finding out what was going on. The result was she avoided an unnecessary liver transplant. Her diagnosis was an uncommon but easily treatable autoimmune condition.

There's roughly 50% odds the transplant would have killed her by now (this was some 10 years ago). Taking an adversarial approach and having the support of a friend's mom who worked for the business side of the HMO in doing this probably saved her life.

It shouldn't have to be this way.

It's abusive to doctors that things are set up this way as well.

In any case, I don't mean to rant, but I just wanted to provide some counter anecdotes to to your feeling that the callousness and incompetence of medicine in the states was being exaggerated.

Wow, contrasting this with the latest 2 experiences my family had:

My stepfather went for a routine visit to the doctor in Vienna, Austria. They found a suspicious object, and decided to treat him immediately, and he was operated on the very next day. It ended up being benign, but I was amazed at their speed of treatment.

My uncle went for a cardiologist evaluation here in Montevideo, Uruguay (where we have a form of socialist-style medicine in the style called Mutualism). They found a suspicious spike in his heartbeat, which they suspected to be a treatable syndrome (Wolff-Parkinson-White), and decided to do some special evaluations. He was treated (with full anaesthetics) one week later (at almost zero cost).

Both were quite good experiences, times are a little slower in Uruguay but everybody has access to basic medicine.

That said, I suspect that for difficult-to-catch diseases, you have to make yourself a bother, otherwise you might slip through the cracks like your friend almost did (doctors here in Uruguay are heavily penalized if they take too much time with one patient).

Don't forget about the true rent-seeking, taxpayer gouging insurance companies. I find that by the time I've paid my $950 a month in insurance, paying another $40 copay to the doctor just makes me angry. When the cost to have semi-decent insurance is the same cost as leasing a BMW it's no wonder that people don't go to the doctor's.

[Note: I realize it might just be that my insurance is ridiculous. I'm looking into alternatives.]

Doctors go through significantly more schooling and receive significantly more professional development — yet they are still perceived with respect as professionals who care about their patients. Why can't we do the same for teachers?

Because peoplegenerally have much less exposure to doctors and when they are they're desperate for either treatment or hope. Both of these contribute.

Also, medical training is much harder than education. There are teachers at every average large high school who could have been doctors but they're a minority.

The study of medicine is grounded in hard sciences. There are many things that are known and many that aren't known but usually the line between the two is relatively clear. When something works or doesn't work, it is also often very easy to see.

The study of education is based on social sciences and everything is much more slippery. What is being taught to teachers right now is whichever theory is currently popular. When I earned my credentials to teach, it was quite frankly a joke most of the time. Getting an A was easy. Many of the people in my program were not competent enough to compete in a more difficult field or program.

In the years since, as my own children began working through the public school system, I am taken aback regularly by evidence that their teachers are poorly educated themselves.

I'm shocked that someone would be surprised that there is a gap between how people view doctors and teachers.

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