Do Physicians Enjoy Practicing Medicine?
I Googled the search term: Do physicians enjoy practicing medicine today? You can imagine the smorgasbord of articles that popped up, can’t you?
From the first page results on Google, we pulled 3 articles.
- How Being A Doctor Became the Most Miserable Profession, by Daniela Drake
- Why I Left Medicine: A Burnt Out Doctor’s Decision to Quit, by Dianne Shannon
- Why Would Someone Become A Doctor, By Dr. Thomas Feeley
After reading the key points, I understand why there is so much pessimism, disenchantment, and frustration amongst my peers.
According to Daniela Drake, 9 of 10 docs discourage others from joining profession. 300 physicians commit suicide/year (the occupation of being a physician is the second most suicidal occupation).
She cited Dr. Stephen Schimpff in writing that it costs an average of $58 to process one insurance claim for one visit. Difficulties with insurance companies have led many physicians to close their practices.
On average, doctors only spend 12 minutes in face to face time with their patients.
If that isn’t bad enough, physicians believe that “every decision carries with it an implied threat of malpractice litigation.”
Regulatory boards have increased the compliance demands on physicians. The American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) has now mandated doctors must comply with costly 2-year milestone programs. If they don’t they will be tagged as noncompliant on the ABIM website.
And there’s more.
Former physician Dianne Shannon left the practice of medicine due to burnout.
Shannon said most doctors don’t ask her why she left; they ask her how she left!
She overcame her guilt feelings from the decision over time, choosing now to see it as self-preservation.
Shannon interviewed Mark Linzer, M.D. who researches physician burnout. He shared the 4 factors involved: time pressure, degree of control regarding work, work pace and associated level of chaos, and values alignment between doctors and administration.
Dr. Linzer’s 2012 study found HALF of practicing physicians have symptoms of burnout. Not surprisingly, an online poll in 2012 showed only 54% of doctors would choose medicine again.
The third referenced site, by Australian anesthesiologist Dr. Thomas Feeley, strove to encourage physicians to abandon the quest for money and instead, focus on the joy of healing patients.
He acknowledged that electronic medical records, bureaucracy, insurance company denials, information overload, long hours, declining reimbursement, and family sacrifice were all a part of a physician’s career. He encouraged physicians to tap into the joy and optimistic future inherent in health care in the future. He also encouraged doctors to take advantage of their ability to delegate more to nurses, pharmacists and physician assistants.
He’s right on one point. Many physicians, including me, enjoy the part of medicine that leads to healing. The satisfaction inherent in that is priceless. Yet, physicians must make a living. They must pay back the hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt incurred in pursuit of their medical degrees.
I believe that money changes hands when problems are solved. Physicians should be fairly compensated for the value they bring to their patients.
What do you believe, doctor?
Which part of the statistic are you in, the 50% who is happily satisfied with his practice and pay, or the physician who is burnt out, stressed out, and questioning her career path?
If you want to do a 180 and have more time, more money and more freedom to enjoy your life, while your patients obtain and maintain health and wellness naturally, get started.
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