This Medscape article raises the question about whether doctors should receive special in-flight accommodations because of what they do. So in the event that some kind of unavoidable change is needed should it matter that you’re a doctor?
The question arose this week when a United passenger was removed from his seat in an overbooking situation. While the matter has been covered exhaustively it was suggested that this particular passenger’s situation was unique since as a physician he ‘needed to see patients the next day.’ While we should be clear that no one deserves to be pulled from their seat, that basic passenger right is profession-independent.
I’d start by suggesting that any physician who can’t afford a flight delay probably needs to reassess their coverage. If you don’t have coverage and your patients are that sick you probably shouldn’t be flying around. And while I’m sympathetic to the importance of what all of us as doctors do, there are lots of people who do important things including other health professionals.
While the media, the public, and our profession have each done their part to romanticize the industrial age image of the busy doctor who can’t be delayed, the days of the precious doctor have passed. Doctors are increasingly employed and the next generation of MD has become perhaps more preoccupied with lifestyle than heroic acts of professional servitude. And many Bay Area medical grads are forgoing clinical care for the quick kill.
While many of my colleagues are ‘busy saving lives,’ few are in circumstances are that call for special dispensation in air travel.