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Well, I may have an interesting perspective on this considering my situation in life.

My father-in-law, Dr. Ernest N. Carlsen, M.D., Ph.D., developed a technology called "gray-scale imaging" many moons ago while working at Loma-Linda University Medical Center. For those that don't know what that is (I certainly didn't when I first heard the story), it is the core technology that makes "ultra-sound" possible.

He then used his undeniable expertise in this emerging field, and his natural entrepreneurial drive, together to forge (and any doctors reading this will understand why I used that word) a private practice that at it's peak spanned more than 20 mammography/radiology clinics here in Southern California.

Life was good. $3-$4M per year was not unusual. Neither were Porsches, big houses and vacations in Monaco, Europe and the Carribean just to name a few. Stock purchases, index mutual funds and money market accounts weren't necessary though, you see, because he was Dr. Carlsen and there would be always be next year (his words, now).

Then he ran afoul of just a few corrupt Health Department officials during a particularly nasty malpractice lawsuit ... and now he's just Ernie Carlsen (he surrendered his license rather than be driven completely bankrupt by the system).

He did manage to pay back his medical school bills, only to have them replaced with over $500,000 in legal bills which have not yet been repayed.

Then there's me.

I'm 32. One of these days I really do intend to get my high school diploma. I'll have to slow down a bit though. Being a CIO is rather time-consuming. Particularly as the network I am responsible for spans a good portion of North America and includes technologies from virtually every manufacturer "in the book". Plus I have 13 direct reports (what takes most of my time; I usually don't get to play with the toys anymore).

I'm one of Rush Limbaugh's "Technological Cognoscenti"; I actually understand the box. Plus I've learned to work with people so I'm an effective leader in the IT space.

I'm a digital cowboy; a rouge. I didn't follow the traditional educational paths, neither did many of my compatriots.

This means that I have no debt, yet I have a ~$200K/year salary. Unfortunately, I was a highly dedicated consumer for many years so I have lost valuable asset-gathering time (I'm better now; we live on under 30% of our income now).

The moral? My Dad worked hard, followed the rules and quite literally got screwed out of his life's work (what he's working on now blows it away though, quite frankly - want to SEE inside the human body ... in real time ... in color ... with no needles or probes?). I didn't. I was the rebel. I chose to go outside a system I still see as absolutely lacking in redemptive traits.

Guess what Dad tells my 3 boys to be when they grow up? Network Engineers like their Dad.

Being a doctor is one of the world's most honorable professions. Period. But until we can successfully tie the government's (and the lawyers') hands, it's a lousy way to make a living.

Sure, you can achieve great cashflow; but at what cost? Crushing debt? Insane malpractice insurance rates? Regulations that only a lawyer can love?

If you're a doctor, you have my deepest empathy.

Sorry; needed to vent. Read this whole thread and "saw between the lines" from several medical professionals' stories and I just sort of lost it a bit.

What the system does to doctors ought to be a capital crime.

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