How to Close the Physician Age Gap
- Flexible scheduling. Practice managers have to change their mindset and offer more flexible scheduling, says West. Granted, offering flexible scheduling can create additional challenges for practice managers. But incorporating flexible and part-time work arrangements into a practice will appeal not only to younger docs—both male and female—but also to older physicians who may be scaling back their practice in preparation for retirement.
On the other end of the age spectrum, many baby boomer physicians are opting to retire or limit the number of new Medicare patients they treat in the face of potential Medicare payment cuts. In a 2010 online survey of American Academy of Family Physicians members who have an ownership stake in their medical practices:
- 62% of family physicians said they may be forced to stop accepting new Medicare patients.
- 73% said they would have to limit the number of Medicare appointments because of the payment cuts.
Given the expected influx of 40–50 million previously uninsured patients into the healthcare system over the next 10 years as a result of healthcare reform, combined with the projected physician shortfall of as many as 150,000 doctors, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, it is imperative that physician practices find ways to convince older physicians to keep practicing medicine.
Older physicians who remain successful in their practices are ones who choose to adapt and change with the times, says Frank Veith, MD, professor of surgery at New York University Medical Center and Cleveland Clinic.
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