As I write this post the stock markets in around the world are in a free fall. The DOW Jones is down nearly 1000 points and with it I can only imagine the mood of those in business around the globe. I find myself though rather calm this morning as I write this, not because I am not exposed to the stock market, but due to the safety that exists in the health care sector.
I recall vividly on the opening day of medical school hearing the Dean of Medicine say the following.
“If any of you applied to Medicine to earn a lot of money I would like you to take a look at the exit doors and consider walking out and going to the school of Business. This is where true wealth is created”
As you can tell I didn’t run for the door but over the next few years I did watch as friends who went through the business world achieved remarkable things in terms of status that I could only dream of. Homes, cars, toys, you name it, they came early to those who avoided the lengthy and poorly paid course of medicine. Eventually though that all ended when I finally finished and entered the working world but there is no question that the Dean was right. You see in Medicine, especially Neonatology we don’t have what you would call scalable earnings. I can’t create more supply of babies and even if I could it would not be without doing a lot of extra work. Also, there are only 24 hours in a day so really there is a limit to how many patients I can see and there is a linear relationship with workload. Contrast that with someone in business who is selling a gadget. It doesn’t take twice the work to ship twice the number of gadgets therefore it is scalable and very profitable. The downside though is that when the demand for the gadgets drops off in times of financial crisis such as “Black Monday” your profits and income can drop as quickly as they have risen.
As I sit and write this today I am grateful that I work in this non-scalable industry of health care and more specifically Neonatology. As long as I do a good job and continue to work I think there is little risk of a contracting workforce. There is a risk that a drop in birth rate or marked reduction in admissions due to a reduction in premature birth could lessen the need for my profession but I don’t see that happening any time soon. All indications in the media, through health care benchmarking and by my own eyes tell me that my job is fairly secure.
It is human nature though to covet those things that we don’t have or can’t reach. I won’t have a private jet, mansion on the ocean or the ability to drink the finest wines as my everyday stock but I do have something far better. I take care of newborns and their families. I love what I do and barring any of the above changes in demand for my services I will be able to do this and earn a decent living from it until I am long in the tooth. Whether you are a Neonatal nurse, dietician, RRT or any one of a number of the critical pieces that help run the NICU on a daily basis be grateful for what you have. No one can take it away from you whether the markets are up, down or sideways.
Lastly while those in business today are staring at this.
Be very glad that every day we get to stare at this…
Any concerns you have had with this turmoil will feel a lot better when you just turn your head from the screen and look at the baby in front of you. We have a job to do and if we stick to it we will accomplish great things for babies and families while providing safely for our own families.