Fighting the Tide Against Independent Physicians

Philip Betbeze, November 11, 2011

Independent physician practices are slowly fading away, and with the advent of healthcare reform, the pace may be about to get much quicker. It's only one of a few troubling signs about the physician labor pool, which seems increasingly dissatisfied with their career choice and the direction of the healthcare industry.

Physicians are being pushed to employment in hospitals or by hospitals, and they're not necessarily happy about it. To be sure, some, especially recent medical school graduates, like the safety, the (somewhat) regular hours, and the freedom to practice medicine rather than worrying about small business concerns that an employment contract offers.

On the whole, though, physicians' dissatisfaction is palpable. According to the physician component of the 2011 HealthLeaders Media Industry Survey, 58% of doctors say that healthcare reform has weakened their organization's financial position—even though many of its provisions haven't kicked in yet!

Even worse, 60% say healthcare reform has weakened morale, and only 67% of them would encourage their child to enter healthcare. Not exactly encouraging for an industry that needs more physicians.

Here's further evidence that physicians are rethinking their choice of career: Merritt Hawkins, a national physician search firm, recently released a survey showing that, despite the fact that 75% of physicians coming out of training are getting at least 50 job solicitations, close to 28% of the same group said that if they had the chance to do it all over again, they would choose a different profession.

How depressing is that?

 I could imagine, in theory, being quite happy in a field that provided me 50 job offers upon completion of my studies and training. I hope I'm not letting a big secret out of the bag by saying the demand for journalists is just a little less strong than that. In any case, physicians see that reimbursements are declining.

Philip Betbeze

Philip Betbeze is the senior leadership editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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