April 1, 2013
Volume 77, Number 4
Letter to the Editor
I was dismayed to read the unfortunate characterization of anesthesiologists as anesthesia “providers” in the title and text of a recent ASA NEWSLETTER update on developing a staffing model.1 Anesthesiologists are professionals, not “providers.” We did not attend “provider” college or serve “provider” apprenticeships; we graduated from medical school and completed residency training. Many of us also finished clinical or research fellowships and obtained advanced degrees. We persevered through the rigorous ABA examination process to become board-certified consultants in our specialty. I suppose that on a superficial level, the word “provider” may be just another annoying, if somewhat innocuous, business-speak term from planet M.B.A. (such inane words as “metric,” “throughput” and “paradigm” also come to mind) that vainly attempts to lend gravity to the propaganda spewed out by hospital administrators. But from my perspective as a cardiac anesthesiologist, the word “provider” is condescending and pejorative. It is an insulting affront to the professional integrity of all of us who have earned, through many years of training, dedication and hard work, the privilege to care for patients during some of the most stressful times in their lives. When anesthesiologists allow demeaning corporate jargon such as “provider” to define us, our professional identity vanishes and we are minimized as an inconsequential part of a medical-industrial complex (acknowledgment to C. Wright Mills)2 in which our unique abilities are neither
respected nor appreciated.
Paul S. Pagel, M.D., Ph.D.
Elm Grove, Wisconsin
1. Abouleish AE. Developing a staffing model: estimating the number of anesthesia providers your group needs -- an update. ASA Newsl. 2013;77(1):10-13.
2. Mills CW. The Power Elite. New York, NY: Oxford University Press; 1957.