Retirees and Residents

Trying to predict the future is probably not the most productive use of anyone’s time, but it’s fun sometimes to think about what the world will be like in 10, or 20, or 30 years. When you speculate about the future, it’s a good idea to keep in mind Bill Gates’ comment about human predictions: “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.”

This musing was prompted by two experiences this week.

1.  I heard from a psychiatrist that I’ve known as a customer since 1986 that she had just retired after 45 years of practice.

2.  I read about this year’s “match” results in Psychiatric News (More Graduates Choose Psychiatry in 2013 Match).

Considering the career of the veteran psychiatrist, versus the future of the new residents, I thought about the following.

When my friend started practice in 1968, DSM-II was “the bible,” Medicare was only four years old, and the technologically savvy psychiatrist had an answering machine, a Dictaphone, and an IBM Selectric typewriter. The office bookshelf was laden with dozens of textbooks, compendia, and treatises.

The new residents, however, will be the first cohort of psychiatrists to know only DSM-5 and among the first psychiatrists whose patient records are only electronic. They will help their patients navigate the intricacies of the Affordable Care Act, which comes to fruition in 2014, while they themselves become experts in the genetics and epigenetics of psychiatric disorders. They will routinely order blood tests to diagnose depression, spinal fluid analysis to diagnose autism, and brain scans to rule out schizophrenia. Their professional library will not be on a bookshelf but on a smart phone or tablet computer, which they will also use to routinely interact with their patients.

However psychiatry evolves, PRMS will evolve with it, providing our customers with the insurance coverage and resources they need to meet the challenges of the future.

Posted: