Yesterday afternoon I had an appointment with one of the doctors I see annually. Practicing good “bedside manner” and, I am sure, looking for other indicators that might affect my health, he asked how the church where I work was doing. In a few sentences I tried to say all was well, but also describe the pressure organized religion of any variety or stripe is under saying that much of my professional training and experience did not match the emerging trends. A bit surprised by my response, he said, “It sounds like the medical profession facing incredible change with no clear direction.” Then, when I turned the question back towards him he said, “When I decided to be a doctor I thought I would be a professional. Now I find I am a provider.”
I walked away from my appointment thinking about his comment.
Is that what is happening in and to so many professions – clergy, doctors, teachers, etc? That instead of being seen and treated as professionals who have a particular training and skill set and expertise, we are now seen as providers and those who buy or receive our services view themselves as the professionals who purchase what we have to give? I don’t want to diminish the issues and concerns or the changes that need to take place in any of our professions, but I do think my doctor’s observations are on the mark and the change in perception/understanding he put into words is a part of the challenge we face.