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1 in 4 New Docs Regret Career Path

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, October 17, 2011

Katie Imborek, MD, a family physician who recently completed her residency at the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics, is emphatically not one of those young physicians who wishes she'd picked another career. However, she is not unsympathetic to the concerns of her disgruntled colleagues.

Imborek reminded me that the new physicians were surveyed by Merritt Hawkins during their last year of residency – a time of great stress, mental exhaustion, and uncertainty, during which young physicians are hugely in debt, have worked harder than they ever have in their lives, and have yet to see the financial rewards for their hard work.

"Even though it should seem like a tremendous time of optimism because they have a lot of job offers and then salaries will be better, it has still been a difficult journey for them," Imborek says. "They are finishing a time where they had absolutely no control over [their] time for three to seven years. Residency is very hard. They cut the work hours at 80 hours per week. They are working double a full-time job and most residents get paid $50,000. If you would make that an hourly wage it is pretty darn cheap labor where you are told when and where to be and it is a stressful situation for a long time," she says.

Dr. Imborek makes some excellent points, and it was cheering and reassuring to speak with her.

Perhaps these young physicians with second thoughts have been so deep into training that they haven't had the time to understand the reality that this nation has been facing for the last few years. If that is the case, it's time they caught up on current events.

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12 comments on "1 in 4 New Docs Regret Career Path"


Stevie RN (10/20/2011 at 3:43 PM)
I agree with 10 out of the 11 comments, written by articulate & well-informed readers. Truly, Commins has a problem, not the least of which is cynicism and a critical spirit. An annual salary of $50,000 working 80 hrs/wk is about $12/hr... high stress & no sleep. Give me a break! I'd be whining a little too. I have a guess, though, that of the 29% questioning their decision, I'll estimate that decreases by at least half within the following year, when they've had some time to have a more "normal" life. May God bless them all. Thank you to them for their dedication.

pinkcarnations000 (10/20/2011 at 12:17 AM)
I think this article is badly written. Bias and cynical. Many people leave the profession for reasons that you are not aware of. Using opinionated judgement without a reasonable cause is not a good reporting style. Analogies of work/pay are outright degrading to physicians as well as janitors, grocery clerks, etc.

Nancy K (10/20/2011 at 12:00 AM)
It's 29% of Merritt Hawkins' 2011 Survey of Final-Year Medical Residents.