What Are Doctors Thinking? New Report Tells All

What are doctors thinking?If you work in a physician’s office, you may wonder — sometimes out loud — “What is he or she thinking?” The Physicians Foundation asked 630,000 physicians about the practice of medicine, their career plans and the current state of the healthcare system.

As a healthcare professional intent on advancing your career, your earnings, and your potential, answers from this report may help you better plot your continued success. For if change is inevitable, you won’t be able to say, “I didn’t know.”

The general “vibe”

Survey responses and some 8,000 written comments reflected “a high level of disillusionment among doctors regarding the medical practice environment and the current state of the healthcare system,” said the foundation. How physicians will respond to ongoing changes now transforming healthcare delivery varies:

  • Many physicians plan to continue practicing the way they are, but over half of the physicians surveyed have reached a tipping point and plan to make changes to their practice.
  • Many intend to take one or more steps to reduce patient access to their services, limiting physician availability at a time when doctors already are in short supply.

Key findings

About the physician profession in general:

  • Over three–quarters are somewhat or very pessimistic about the future of the medical profession, and over 84 percent agree it’s in decline.
  • The majority would not recommend medicine as a career.
  • Over one–third wouldn’t choose medicine again as a career.
  • Over 60 percent of physicians would retire today if they could.
  • Younger, or female, or employed or primary care physicians are generally more positive than older or male physicians or practice owners or specialists.
  • Over 62 percent estimate $25,000 or more each year in uncompensated care.

 About practice economics

  • Over 52 percent limit Medicare patients or will do so.
  • Over 26 percent don’t accept Medicaid patients.
  • In the next one to three years, over 50 percent will cut back on patients, work part-time, switch to concierge medicine, retire or take other steps that would limit patient access.

About health reform

  • Over 59 percent indicate health reform has made them less positive about the future of healthcare in America.
  • Over 82 percent believe doctors have little ability to change the healthcare system.Close to 92 percent are unsure where the health system will be or how they will fit into it three to five years from now.
  • Over 62 percent of physicians said Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) are either unlikely to increase healthcare quality and decrease costs or that any quality/cost gains will not be worth the effort.
  • Physicians are divided on the efficacy of medical homes.
  • Over 47 percent worry about EMRs risking patient privacy.

What it means

Look around your workplace. Can you do more to help your doctor and colleagues? Or if you’ve decided to make a change, are you educating yourself not only about opportunities here on Health Callings, for example, but in terms of additional certifications or degrees you’ll need? Now is the time to identify and pursue the career that’s just right for you and your future.

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About Stephanie Stephens

Stephanie Stephens is an award-winning journalist and copywriter, specializing in health and lifestyle topics, whose work has appeared in a wide variety of national consumer, custom and trade publications. She’s also the creator, executive producer and host of a multimedia channel for female baby boomers, “Mind Your Body TV.” Stephanie is based in Orange County, Calif., and when the mood strikes, New Zealand.

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