"They are saying 'with all the investment I have to have in my education and all of that is the outcome really worth it?' They are telling these young people 'Hey this isn't the place to go. Stay in healthcare. It's a great industry. Just don't become a physician.'
If you look at (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists) versus anesthesiologists the money is almost the same, but the risk for the CRNA is dramatically less in terms of liability, the cost of the education, etc. So all of a sudden when you are looking at the balance you think 'I will just become a CRNA and I won't have those sleepless nights, but I am making a large percentage of what the doctor is making.'"
Source: Jackson & Coker
McEachern says the movement toward employed physicians may ease some of the concerns about paperwork and haggling with insurers, but that it also creates its own sets of problems.
"One of the motivations for physician relocation at one point was dealing with immediate income versus potential income," he says. "What happened is 20 years ago, when we did this survey, potential income was among the highest ranking motivators. Now it is immediate income and the reason is doctors aren't building equity in a practice anymore like someone building equity in a home they plan to sell in 20 years from now. Even though employment model has less overhead and risk, you also aren't building any equity in your own future. So you have to take all the money on the table now as opposed to building a practice."
Scott M. Manning, director of HR/Provider Recruiting at District Medical Group, the largest physician group in Phoenix, AZ, with more than 300 providers, says he senses a lot of job dissatisfaction among physicians although the levels cited by the Jackson & Coker survey "sound a little high to me."
"But I am not at all surprised that there are a percentage of docs who don't see medicine to be as good a career today as they did 20 or 30 years ago," says Manning, who is also president of the Association of Staff Physician Recruiters.