If they could, three in five doctors would quit today

Survey: One in three would choose a different career

A new survey from The Physicians Foundation finds that about 84% of doctors think their profession is in decline and more than 60% would quit today if given the chance.

The Survey of America’s Physicians was emailed to over 630,000 physicians—or about 84% of active doctors—between March and June of this year. Altogether, 13,575 physicians responded to the 48-question survey, which hoped to assess doctor's morale, patterns, career plans, and perspectives on reform, among other things

Physicians' attitudes toward their profession worsen

Altogether, 60.6% of physicians said they would retire today if they were able to, up from 45% of physicians in 2008.

In addition, the survey found that:

  • 84.2% of surveyed physicians say that the medical profession is in decline;
  • 77.4% are "somewhat pessimistic" or "very pessimistic" about the future of the profession;
  • 57.9% would not recommend medicine as a career to their children or other young people; and
  • 34.5% would not choose medicine as a career if they had a "do over."

When the same survey was conducted in 2010, 66.2% physicians said their profession was "somewhat positive/satisfying," compared to just 39% of physicians in 2012.

Among the aspects of the profession that physicians rate as the "least satisfying," liability/defensive medicine pressures, dealing with Medicaid/Medicare, and reimbursement issues ranked highest.

Physicians consider steps that would limit health care access

Meanwhile, the survey found that more than 50% of physicians plan to reduce their patient volume, work part-time, switch to concierge medicine, retire, or take other steps what would reduce access to their services. In addition, it found that:
  • Over 52% of physicians have limited or plan to limit Medicare patients' access to their practice; and
  • 26.7% of physicians have closed their practices to Medicaid patients.

Reforms leave physicians uncertain about the future of their profession

More than 59% of the surveyed physicians said that the Affordable Care Act has left them feeling less positive about the future of the U.S. health care system.

"Physicians are being asked or compelled to transition from a fee-for-service system in which volume of consults, treatments or procedures is rewarded, to one in which value—as measured by quality and cost outcomes—is the metric used to determine compensation," the survey says, adding, "[T]he medical profession is in the midst of a tsunami of change, and change is frequently difficult" (Physicians Foundation survey, 10/1; Ritchie, 'Cincy Biz Blog,' Business Courier, 10/1).

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