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Study Finds Doctor is the World's Most Respected Profession

Discussion in 'Doctors Cafe' started by Hadeel Abdelkariem, Nov 26, 2018.

  1. Hadeel Abdelkariem

    Hadeel Abdelkariem Golden Member

    Apr 1, 2018
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    Ask anyone`s who`s ever been a patient: Physicians are greedy, arrogant and insensitive.

    But wait a minute: Ask some more people, because it`s not the whole picture.


    A recent study shows the worker with the highest social status, t
    he one most respected, is not a rock `n` roll star nor Hollywood celebrity but a physician-surgeon.

    The study was conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. In it, 1,166 adults nationwide rated the status of 740 occupational titles. And medical doctors were the winners. Doctors, in fact, pushed college presidents, ranked No. 1 in 1964 when the survey was first conducted, into second place.

    If doctors have the highest status, then the head of the American Medical Association may be one of the most respected job-holders in the country. He`s James S. Todd, physician-surgeon and executive vice president of the AMA, which has 278,000 members.

    Todd, who for 22 years was a surgeon in Ridgewood, N.J., and a non-salaried clinical assistant professor at Columbia University, believes doctors deserve the respect they get.

    ''The top ranking doesn`t surprise me, because when people stop and think about this profession, they realize that the work of physicians in general is beneficial,'' said Todd, a vascular and cancer surgeon who took the AMA post in 1985. ''People don`t go to doctors when they`re feeling fine and have no problems. The expectation is that physicians will help you, and you respect those who help others. And doctors do help, most of the time.''

    Todd, 60, says his career as an active physician was satisfying because

    ''you really influence the course of disease; you`re actually there doing something that makes a difference.''

    His years as a surgeon, he adds, ''didn`t make me rich. If you want to get rich, going into medicine isn`t the way to do it if you look at total life earnings. Doctors are usually in their mid-30s before they start making money. They have sizable debts from the cost of their education, they pay high taxes, have high overheads, must pay for their own retirement plans and have no stock options.''

    The high social status accorded physicians also is ''not surprising'' to Tom W. Smith, historian and director of the general social survey of the National Opinion Research Center. He was co-principle investigator for the study with James A. Davis, professor of sociology at Harvard University.

    ''The characteristics of top status ranking are a high level of education and training, a well-paid job and respectability,'' said Smith. ''At the other end of the scale, occupations with the lowest status are characterized by minimum wage or low pay, are dead end, menial and unskilled. Some are illegal.''

    The purpose of the survey, Smith says, ''is to measure social consistency and social change and to develop models to explain why society has changed and why it has not.''

    After physicians and college presidents, the occupations most highly respected are astronauts, high government officials, lawyers, computer scientists, college professors, physicists, chemists, chemical engineers, architects and biologists. Another change from 1964 is that dentists have dropped off the top 12 list and have been replaced by computer scientists.

    The occupation with the lowest prestige is panhandler. It is followed by fortune teller, street corner drug dealer, prostitute, envelope stuffer, dishwasher, shoe shiner, grocery bagger, street sweeper, migrant worker, carwash attendant and newspaper ''peddler.''

    In contrast, in 1964 shoe shiners were at rock bottom, followed by street sweepers, hat check ''girls,'' office cleaners, hotel chambermaids, migrant workers, soda ''jerks,'' cleaning women, bell ''boys,'' mule team drivers and newspaper ''peddlers.''

    ''The ratings are very telling about the values of society,'' said Judith Treas, professor and head of the Department of Sociology at the University of California at Irvine. ''People respect science-and physicians are strongly identified with it. We respect rational sources of authority-including lawyers-who are very well educated.''

    Treas, an investigator for the study, says a conclusion from the ''low end'' of the status scale clearly is ''crime does not pay, and dubious occupations are looked down on.''

    But Thomas Geoghegan, labor lawyer with Despres, Schwartz & Geoghegan in Chicago, sees more significance in those at the bottom of the scale than at the top.

    ''This survey shows that within the span of almost 30 years, the U.S. has reverted back to the days of the Charles Dickens novels, and we now have an underclass of Fagins and others because the American economy provides no decent jobs for millions of our citizens-and many have gone underground,''

    said Geoghegan, author of ''Which Side Are You On: Trying to Be for Labor When It`s Flat on Its Back'' (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $19.95).

    Geoghegan said that ''the shoe shiners of 1964 are now the panhandlers of today. The steel workers are washing dishes. Manufacturing has closed down and everyone has moved down the queue.''

    Geoghegan believes there should be a ''social contract between government and workers that give people a stake in the companies they work for-and dignity and respect.''


    Carol Kleiman`s column, ''Women at Work,'' appears in Monday`s Business section.


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