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Sisyphus or Pegasus? The Physician Interviewer in the Era of Corporatization of Care

Mack Lipkin Jr., MD
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New York University Medical Center, New York, NY 10016 Requests for Reprints: Mack Lipkin Jr., MD, New York University Medical Center, 550 First Avenue, New York, NY 10016.


Copyright ©2004 by the American College of Physicians


Ann Intern Med. 1996;124(5):511-513. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-124-5-199603010-00010
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With the increasing corporatization of medicine, are physicians becoming Sisyphean drudges toiling futilely, forced to roll the stone uphill faster and faster, losing patients, pride in quality care, autonomy, and their own health? This increasing prevalent self-image—correlated with high rates of burnout and fundamental dissatisfaction with the profession—contrasts with the happier, Pegasus-like myth of the physician soaring on the wings of science and professionalism, experiencing the joys of effectiveness, altruism, moral probity, and wealth that attracted so many of us to medicine. Implicit in much Sisyphean negativism is victimization—by the nature of things, in Camus' existentialist version, and by the medical-industrial complex, in others. The extent to which we have perpetuated our own victimization and the extent to which it is remediable through our own actions are empiric questions.

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