by Brian Dittmar
A grand experiment is in progress. As a society, we are trying to determine if access to health care can be expanded while simultaneously curtailing costs and maintaining quality of care. Physicians are at the epicenter of this experiment and almost all agree that it is a challenging and uncertain time to be a doctor. It’s no wonder that many physicians are considering a career change. A 2012 survey commissioned by The Physicians Foundation reaches some startling conclusions:
- “Over three quarters of physicians — 77.4 percent — are somewhat pessimistic or very pessimistic about the future of the medical profession.
- Over 84 percent of physicians agree that the medical profession is in decline.
- The majority of physicians — 57.9 percent — would not recommend medicine as a career to their children or other young people.
- Over one-third of physicians would not choose medicine if they had their careers to do over.
- Over 60 percent of physicians would retire today if they had the means.”
So what is driving physician dissatisfaction? The survey cites, “liability/defensive medicine as the least satisfying aspect of medical practice, followed by Medicare/Medicaid/government regulations, reimbursement issues, and uncertainty/changes of health reform. These factors and others tend to interfere with or distract doctors from patient relationships and therefore diminish their professional satisfaction.”
Another survey completed in March 2013 by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions reaches similar conclusions. Physicians responding to that survey believe:
- “The future of the medical profession may be in jeopardy as it loses clinical autonomy and compensation.
- Satisfaction with the profession is driven by patient relationships (which are decreasing in quality and quantity).
- Medical liability (malpractice) reform is a major concern to physicians.
- Physicians are likely to increasingly compete with mid-level professionals in primary care.
- Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements may be problematic, prompting many physicians to limit or close their practices to these enrollees.
- Physician-hospital integration is expected to increase.”
There seems to be a wealth of published commentary written by physicians expressing frustration and dissatisfaction. However, the Physicians’ Foundation survey finds that more than 82% of physicians believe they have little ability to change the health care system. I personally hope the survey is wrong about this, and would encourage all physicians to keep the commentary coming and make your voices heard.
What are your thoughts on the state of the health care profession? Please share in the comments section.