Monday, December 13, 2004

Army doc called to active duty at age 70. 
This story will get a lot of play.

What the story leaves out, though, is that the reserve component medical community has worked out a sweetheart deal with the Army: Unlike the rest of us working stiffs, doctors only serve 90 days in theater and then come home again.

Yep, the doctors are a pretty powerful lobby. (Unlike, say, the Writer's Guild, which can't even come up with a health plan for any writers outside of the state of New York. And don't get me started on the musician's unions!)

The thing is, if the military DID'T put some limitation on doctor's tours, they'd never stay in the military at all! They can't afford to lose their practices, take a break in liability insurance coverage, etc.

Just basic economics. Doctors are a commodity, even on military markets. The tour limitation was just part of the going price on the military labor markets for that specialty. Grunts work cheaper, because their opportunity cost of serving in the military is low.

So we wind up burning through doctors at 4-5 times the rate we burn up other specialties.

It doesn't surprise me that we have a 70 year old doctor packing up. I've seen many military doctors still working well into their 60s. Even took a 60+ surgeon from Mississippi to the National Training Center once. He was a surgeon in the Viet Nam war, too.

He did it because he still enjoyed it, and still enjoyed getting out to the field with troops.

He also remembered how it is he was able to become a doctor in the first place: the military.

Lev Tolstoy wrote that youth is no hindrance to courage. It's good to know that age is no hindrance to dedication.

Splash, out


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