The number of U.S. doctors who are content to practice medicine is rapidly declining – in fact, only about 40% of physicians were pleased with their career choice compared to 60% who said they would leave their profession if they could afford to do so.
Why would this be so?
More and more the practice of doctoring is becoming a thankless job. Reimbursement is down for most specialties while the cost of doing medical business continues to rise. While some specialties like radiology and orthopedics continue to command fairly good wages, those involved with nuts and bolts medicine such as pediatrics, internal medicine and family medicine are seeing their incomes evaporate.
The cost of a medical education in both time and money continues to rise. Doctors can accumulate a good deal of debt in the process. Many times doctors are forced to put off their piece of the American dream by delaying such things as marriage, raising a family and buying a home.
The work itself can become tedious and stressful, especially when dealing with endless insurance company paperwork, all in an effort to simply get paid for services rendered. Contrary to what many claim about the greatness of the American health care system, most doctors recognize it as a broken system which emphasizes disease rather than health. Not surprisingly, many doctors would welcome a simplified single payer system which does more to promote good health.
Another trend in the US has expanding corporations and institutions employing more and more doctors. As part of this expansion, many of these companies and institutions are buying up private practices - turning an ever growing number of physicians into mere employees forced to function within a bureaucratic maze. In the minds of many physicians, the interests of such bureaucracies often conflict with the interests of doctors and patients.
Lastly, many doctors simply feel unappreciated. Their career is not simply about making money. Most work very hard to deliver the best possible care they can with little personal thanks to show for it.
Guinness is good for you, say medical experts