Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Wang Haiyang stretched his back relaxedly as he sat in the business class seat of the high-speed rail. He looked very carefree.
Even though freelance surgeons had to go through the pain of traveling, since the expenses were paid for by the other party, and they got to sit in business or first class seats, the fatigue from the trip was not distinct. On the contrary, it was a comfort that was hard to come by for chief physicians, with a monthly income of around 10,000 RMB, to get to sit like a successful person in the business class cabin, which cost three times more than economy class seats…
You could say that the whole process of carrying out a freelance surgery was a solace that was hard to come by.
“In our hospital, the chief surgeons get 400 or 500 RMB for each surgery they perform. But this doesn’t mean that our brains, skills, and experience are only worth 400 or 500 RMB.” Since Wang Haiyang was out of the hospital, he became a lot more relaxed. Coupled with the fact that he and Ling Ran were the only ones in the cabin, his voice was raised slightly. “Take the People’s Liberation Army General Hospital for example. Their ratio is one to three. Their departments only get half of the surgery fees our department gets, and their chief surgeons only get around 200 RMB for each surgery. We can’t just say that the surgeries their chief surgeons perform are only worth around 200 RMB, right?”
Ling Ran nodded.
“Freelance surgery shows the true value of a doctor. Some doctors get 50,000 or 10,000 RMB for each freelance surgery performed. Some get 10,000 or 20,000 RMB, and some only get 5,000 or 8,000 RMB… Why is that so?” As a ‘middle-class freelance surgeon’ who earned 10,000 RMB for each surgery, Wang Haiyang was a little pleased with himself and could not help but boast, “People always say that a doctor’s value cannot be measured. But actually, the amount of money people pay you for freelance surgery represents how the outside world appraises you.”
Ling Ran listened obediently and did not do anything.
Wang Haiyang continued smugly. “Let’s talk about someone you know, as an example. Do you remember Qi from the provincial hospital?”
“Yes.” Wang Haiyang chuckled a few times and said, “He’s a person of authority when it comes to treating burns, and published quite few papers. He always acts as though he’s someone amazing. But do you know how much he gets paid for a freelance surgery?”
“Even doctors from the Trauma and Burn Surgery Department can become freelance surgeons?”
“He performs skin grafts,” said Wang Haiyang. He continued, “To the outside world, Qi Zhenhai quotes a price of 15,000 RMB, and a friend price of 6,000 RMB, hahahaha…”
Ling Ran looked at Wang Haiyang with a baffled expression. He did not find what Wang Haiyang had just said to be funny at all.
After Wang Haiyang laughed for a while, he realized that Ling Ran did not share his sentiment. He could not help but feel rather dispirited.
At this moment, Wang Haiyang suddenly missed some of his other assistants who knew how to play the comedic role in a crosstalk.
Actually, most ordinary doctors knew how to do that. It was very hard for doctors who did not know how to play a comedic role in a crosstalk to survive in the operating theater. If the first assistant was not able to play a comedic role when the chief surgeon cracked jokes while cutting up the patient’s body, what use would such a first assistant be?
For a doctor, the time they spent in the operating theater during their time as medical interns to housemen, and as second assistants to first assistants, was a time for them to listen to crosstalks, and learn how to play the comedic role in one. By the time they master the art of playing the comedic role, it would be about time they got to be chief surgeons and become the main character in the crosstalk.
However, Ling Ran did not go through this process. Before he managed to change his quiet personality, he was already qualified to become a chief surgeon.
When Wang Haiyang looked at Ling Ran, he laughed in spite of himself. “What I meant is: Qi Zhenhai charges a friend price every time he carries out a freelance surgery. It’s not like he’s a man who wanders about the world of martial arts during Imperial China and adheres to the code of honor they had at that time. So, the price of each freelance surgery he carries out is 6,000 RMB, and him saying that he gets 15,000 RMB is a lie.”
Ling Ran nodded.
“There aren’t that many doctors who get paid more than 10,000 RMB for a freelance surgery.” Wang Haiyang paused for a moment and said with a smile, “Actually, there are very few doctors who get to perform freelance surgery. Think about it, our travel expenses are borne by the other party. If you don’t have any other exceptional skill, why would that hospital spend all that money on you? Besides, the hospital that hires you also needs to arrange assistants and nurses for you, aside from doing all the preoperative preparations and postoperative treatments. The requirements for freelance surgeons when it comes to microsurgeries are even higher.”
Because Ling Ran was interested in this, he went along with Wang Haiyang’s topic and asked, “Why?”
“Before talking about this, I have to tell you something. There is still a certain risk involved in performing freelance surgery,” Wang Haiyang spoke like a doctor discussing surgical risks, “The greatest risk in performing freelance surgery is that the operation might fail. If the patient were to make a fuss out of it, he could accuse us of illegally practicing medicine. In the end, we won’t even be able to reason ourselves out of it. And you already know the success rate of finger replantations; failure is sometimes inevitable. What would we do then?”
“Perform preoperative assessment?” Ling Ran tried his best to come up with his answer.
Wang Haiyang laughed out loud. “If preoperative assessments were useful, we wouldn’t even need to talk about the success rate. However, preoperative assessment is still necessary, especially for our specialization. Let’s take the smoker patient you treated earlier as an example; we must not perform freelance surgery on anyone who is a smoker.”
“So, the key point is: the hospital that hires us must be familiar with the patient, and must be responsible for anything that happens.” Wang Haiyang flashed a slight smile and said, “Only carry out freelance surgery on patients the hospitals are familiar with. To put it bluntly: this is the only principle we adhere to. Our scope of patients only includes relatives and friends of the other hospital’s doctors. Anyone other than that is out of the question.”
“The relatives and friends of doctors from the hospitals that hire us? There wouldn’t be a lot of them, would there?” Ling Ran was somewhat shocked. The patients needed finger replantation surgery mostly because they were caught in accidents, but they might not receive the surgery locally.
Wang Haiyang sighed. “So, there isn’t much of a chance for us to go to other hospitals and perform freelance surgery. You’ll understand after you get to know more doctors. The more doctors you know, the more freelance surgery opportunities you get.”
Wang Haiyang, who was about fifty years old, knew a few doctors from all the hospitals who were of a certain standard in the province, especially when it came to the doctors in the Hand Surgery Department of those hospitals. In earlier years, when the field of hand surgery first flourished, there were only a few doctors in the circle. It would not be an overstatement to say that Wang Haiyang knew all of them.
From Wang Haiyang’s perspective, those doctors’ friends and relatives were the gateway for him to be a freelance surgeon.
When faced with the young Ling Ran, it was only natural that Chief Physician Wang Haiyang wanted to build a little bit of psychological advantage over him.
Ling Ran was unaware of this.
He did not care about the income a doctor got from performing freelance surgery, or the risks involved. Even though an income of 5,000 RMB was quite a lot for an ordinary doctor, for Ling Ran who had more than 100,000 RMB in his bank account and did not even know how to spend it all, the money was not the slightest bit attractive to him.
The risk of performing a freelance surgery was only probabilistic. Every single moment, the Chinese airspace was filled with hundreds or thousands of doctors who flew around to perform freelance surgeries. All the doctors who were qualified to perform freelance surgeries were the backbones of their respective hospitals. A lot of times, doctors had to pay hospitals a compensation of up to 1,000,000 RMB if they were to job-hop. So, if a hospital were to fire a doctor because he carried out freelance surgeries, if would be akin to them burning their own money.
That was Chief Physician Wang Haiyang’s line of thought, too.
Yun Hua Hospital gave him a salary of 10,000 RMB, and a bonus of the same amount every month. Together with his external income, he got to receive around 40,000 or 50,000 RMB a month. Even though that was not a small sum, from a psychological and materialistic point of view, Wang Haiyang was still unwilling to give up freelance surgery, which paid 10,000 RMB per surgery.
More importantly, senior doctors like him were the ones who laid down the hospital’s policy. Because of that, he had not heard about the cases where doctors were punished because of freelance surgeries in the entire Changxi province, much less in Yun Hua Hospital.
Sometimes, Wang Haiyang would even think about how even if his license were to be revoked, he could just retake the licensing examination two years later. He even went a step further to think about how he could just simply take on a role in one of the medical groups out there and do other things.
Since Wang Haiyang was only a few years away from his retirement, he treasured the opportunity of being invited by others to sit in business class cabins even more.
Yiyuan County Hospital.
The Department of Orthopedic Surgery’s director, Kong Xiangming, earnestly made the necessary preparations in the operating theater, and especially checked the newly-purchased microsurgery equipment. He then reminded the young doctors about the time the surgery would be carried out before he met with the patient’s family, and then double-checked on details such as the surgery fee.
Even though the Department of Orthopedic Surgery bore Chief Physician Wang Haiyang’s travel expenses to Yiyuan county, the patient still had to pay for Wang Hai Yang’s ‘specialist fee’.
From a doctor’s perspective, this fee was well worth it, because the patient would not need to go through the pain of travel to seek treatment in Yun Hua Hospital, which was a few hours away. Besides, the patient also did not have to worry about being treated by some unacclaimed chief physician. Instead, Chief Physician Wang Haiyang, who was one of the best chief surgeons even in the Changxi province, would be designated to treat him.
Aside from that, by staying in Yiyuan County Hospital instead of in Yun Hua Hospital during the forty-day to fifty-day hospitalization period, the patient’s family got to save quite a bit on accommodation expenses.
In reality, if the family members of people in the medical profession were afflicted with serious illnesses, their first choice would be to employ famous doctors as freelance surgeons. There were two ways to look for freelance surgeons: the first one would be through the recommendation of colleagues; the second one would be to look through textbooks. They just needed to find a textbook that discussed the related illness, and look at the names of the people who wrote and edited it. All of them would be masters of their field, and their consultation tickets sold by scalpers would cost between hundreds to thousands. But the fee for a freelance surgery would not ordinarily exceed 50,000 RMB. Most of them cost even less than that.
However, the insiders’ points of view did not always represent the public’s point of view. This was why Kong Xiangming had to double-check a few times with the patient’s family regarding the expenses. He had seen way too many patients who turned to any doctor they could find when critically ill. And even though they were anxious when they were ill, they would then complain about the expenses after they recovered. This could easily lead to disputes.
The moment he noticed such a problem, Kong Xiangming would rather cancel the surgery that was supposed to be performed by the freelance surgeon, and transfer the patient to another hospital rather than offend the specialist they took pains to hire.
Ever since this year, Kong Xiangming had been very proactive when it came to hiring specialists, because he wanted to start carrying out microsurgeries, especially finger replantation surgeries, in his department.
And in Yiyuan County Hospital’s Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Kong Xiangming himself was already fifty-two years old. All the attending physicians and associate chief physicians of a certain standard were also around the age of thirty and forty. Even if they disregarded how shameful it would be for them to seek in-service training from places such as Yun Hua Hospital’s Hand Surgery Department at this age, they would not be able to get used to being meek and subservient again even if they wanted to.
It was easier to hire specialists from outside to teach them rather than send their existing doctors for in-service training.
This was why hospitals of various tiers gathered based on their experiences over recent years.
Everyone in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery agreed with Kong Xiangming’s way of doing things. None of them arranged to perform any surgery today, and just waited for the specialist to arrive instead.
The young female nurses were the ones who were slacking a little… until they saw Ling Ran get off the car.
“Is this the specialist from Yun Hua Hospital?”
“He’s probably a young doctor who came along with the specialist.”
“It’s impossible. Doctors stay up all night all the time. How can he have such a radiant complexion?”
“I did not use to believe it when people talked about how handsome the doctors in Yun Hua Hospital are. Now I know that doctors from Yun Hua Hospital are truly handsome…”