The survey was done last year, but as healthcare reform looms larger in 2013, I want to share some sobering facts from a survey done by The Physicians Foundation. This nonprofit seeks to advance the work of practicing physicians and help facilitate the delivery of healthcare to patients. Last summer, it asked 630,000 physicians about the practice of medicine, their career plans and the current state of the healthcare system.
The news wasn’t encouraging, but I found it very interesting, especially some of the doctors’ comments. Doctors expressed disillusionment about the current state of medical practice and healthcare. Some said they’ll “keep on keepin’ on,” but nearly half said they’re “over it” and will implement changes in their practices. Many also said they’ll probably reduce patient access to their services, which isn’t great news since physicians—especially those in primary care—are already “short staffed.”
Doctors aren’t optimistic
Here’s what else they shared:
- 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.
And these realities further reduce access:
- 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.
I culled a few choice comments from the survey that may surprise you—or may not:
- The state of the medical profession today is a disaster.
- I’m getting out ASAP.
- It has turned from a noble profession into a business where physicians are traded.
- Everybody can’t have everything for nothing.
- As long as trial attorneys continue to rampantly impinge on our ability to care for patients, we have no reason for optimism.
- Thirty years from now it will be hard to recruit bright young people to the medical profession.
- My life has been destroyed, and as a consequence my happiness, patriotism, and professionalism have all been permanently damaged.
The next time I visit my physician, I’m going to ask her how she feels. Perhaps you will, too?