The majority of physicians are pessimistic about the future of their profession and half are planning to change the way they practice medicine, according to survey results published by The Physicians Foundation.
The survey, which received more than 13,000 responses, found that 77% of physicians described themselves as negative or pessimistic about the future of the medical profession. Only 42% of physicians said they would recommend medicine as a career to their children or young people. Looking more closely at the results, it appears that older physicians, practice owners, specialists, and male physicians are among the most pessimistic.
Younger physicians, employed physicians, female physicians and primary care physicians tend to have a brighter outlook. This is likely due to the fact that practice owners face more administrative struggles and reimbursement challenges. Also, older physicians have the burden of perspective and can compare the current healthcare situation to year’s past.
So what are physicians doing about their negativity? Well, half said they will continue to practice medicine the same way for the next three years. However, 22% plan to cut back on hours, which is consistent with a trend observed in a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. That study found that between 1977 and 1996 physicians worked an average of 55 hours per week. That number fell to 51 hours per week between 1997 and 2008, which is equal to losing of 36,000 full time physicians.
In short, cutting back hours will make the predicted physician shortage worse. Other popular plans for the next three years include: retirement (13%), non-clinical healthcare position (10%), concierge medicine (7%) locum tenens (6%), and hospital employment (6%).