The personal story of how a psychiatrist confronts the profound changes sweeping the medical establishment as they reshape her life and career. In the past two decades, a seismic shift has occurred within the walls of our nation's hospitals and doctor's offices. The medical profession- once considered a sacred, cherished vocation-has devolved into a business motivated by a desire for profits. Even psychiatry, once the mainstay of the human interaction between doctor and patient, has fallen victim to rising costs and dictates by insurance sources. How has medicine strayed so far from its roots? In "The Kitchen Shrink," psychiatrist and lecturer Dora Calott Wang delves into what happened. Through the prism of her own story, Wang elucidates key events in her professional life-the declining state of hospitals and clinics, the advent of managed care, and the rise of profits at the ex-pense of patient care-that highlight the medical profession's decline. Along the way we meet some of her patients, whose plights reflect the profession's growing indifference to the human lives at risk. There's Selena, whose grief over her mother's death and lack of family support make it difficult for her to take the medicine that keeps her body from rejecting her new liver, and Leonard, a schizophrenic with no health insurance who develops peritonitis and falls into a coma for three months. Each new story brings additional compromises as the medical landscape shifts under Wang's feet. She struggles with depression and exhaustion, witnesses the loss of top doctors who leave in frustration, and attempts to find a balance between work and home as it becomes ever clearer that she cannot untangle the uncertain future of her patients from her own. Part personal story and part rallying cry, "The Kitchen Shrink" is an unflinchingly honest, passionate, and humane inside look at the unsettling realities of free-market medicine in today's America.
Dora Calott Wang, M.D., is psychiatrist who has degrees from the Yale School of Medicine and the University of California-Berkeley. She has been in private practice, served on hospital staffs, and been a medical school instructor. She also has a master's in English from Berkeley and lives with her family in New Mexico.