Tuesday, December 04, 2007
The Value of Worth
I had dinner with a midwife last night. We chewed the fat about how things were going and I reflected on the first time we met... I had invited her to my office for a meet and greet. This was around 2002 or 2003. She accepted my invitation and we sat and chatted a couple of hours. (I often meet people this way. If I want to get to know someone, I simply call them up and invite them out to coffee or lunch or something.) During our conversation I asked how her collaborating physician was compensated, and she confided that he got what seemed like more than his fair share of what she made. "What !?!" I yelled without stopping to censure myself, "that's more like pimp and prostitute than doctor and midwife!" I pictured some middle-aged guy in a lab coat but sporting a purple feathered fedora and two-toned wingtips... I chuckle about it now, but that was really a defining moment for me. I wanted to help women have better births and more options, but the work of the midwife seemed so unfairly compensated. I also saw midwives getting little respect from their OB colleagues while doing twice the work for half the pay. I dropped in on a local meeting of CPMs last week and found them discussing compensation for their work. They laughed about how clients would say they could not afford their fees and yet would miss appointments because their pedicures were still wet, or their massage appointment ran late. If we want to be valued for what we do, we must first value ourselves and the work we do. I want to help women, help themselves. I want to help careproviders provide better care AND I want to be well compensated for it. Do those values seem at odds? They are not. They are both essential to a quality life.