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1 in 4 New Docs Regret Career Path



Citing a familiar litany of complaints such as declining reimbursements and rising costs, 28% of physicians in their final year of training say that if they had to do it all over again, they'd choose another profession. This is not alarming. It's maddening.



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.
ANGELA (10/19/2011 at 10:57 PM)

Excerpt from Mr. Commins' article: "What exactly did you expect? What or who was the source of those expectations you embraced in your impressionable youth when you decided to dedicate your life to healing? What exactly were they telling you in medical school? More importantly, if your dedication to this noble profession is so fleeting that you're ready to quit before you've really even started, why did they admit you to medical school the first place? Isn't there a process to weed out people like you?" I can understand you are trying to illustrate your point of view, however, that does not mean degrading is tolerable. I have to say I find this article very offensive. The journey to become a physician is difficult, long, and costly. It's not just a test of intelligence but also of physical endurance and stress tolerance. Mr. Commins let me briefly explain this journey to you. To start, the person should have a strong desire and of course good grades. The first weed out as you called it, is the MCAT exam. If you pass then you get an "opportunity" for an interview into medical school. Mind you, you are competing against many brilliant aspiring potential physician candidates. If accepted then you go through another 4 years of studying and testing until you think you can't take it anymore then it's more studying and testing for USMLE 1, 2 and 3. At this point if you think money was the only reason to be in this field then I think you are wrong. If there wasn't a least bit of desire to be a physician then I really don't know what kept us going for more. Because we want the best for our patients all med students that have passed the USMLEs then go through series of interviews and compete again for residency positions. Once accepted for residency it's another 4 years of working on an average of 80 hours per week. You call working 80 hrs a week whiners? Do you have any idea what we go through in order to get a M.D. degree? If it wasn't about the passion / desire to be a healer who would sacrifice family time for 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school, 4 years of residency and a couple more years if specializing. In addition, look at the huge financial burden of medical school. It takes an average of 15-20 years to pay everything off. It takes an added courage to walk away from the profession knowing the cost of walking away is a lifetime burden with a huge price tag. I can assure you it's not a decision taken lightly and definitely not a risk many people are willing to take. So please don't think it's easy to walk away because it's NOT. It's difficult to start all over again but it's not end of the world. I am sure having by passed so many hurdles what's another hiccup? When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
Jva (10/18/2011 at 5:00 PM)

As a new doctor in training, I find the author of this piece should spend a week in the life of the typical intern and see what he thinks about us and our complaints. There are many convenient details that this author leaves out to further his ridiculous argument. To answer your question, many medical schools DON'T spend much time worrying about the business aspect of medicine, and are just now coming around to that point [INVALID] my medical school's attitude was 'here's the medicine part, you can deal with the business part later'. In addition, the author's theory that physician's should be happy that they have jobs is quite simply offensive. The fact that we all need to pursue the amount of education that we do (4 years of in college, followed by 4 years of medical school, and then another 3-7 years of training, not to mention 1-4 years of fellowship training many new residents are doing) should rightfully serve to enhance our job prospects. The fact he says we should be lucky that we have jobs and compare it to the 'average' salary of the American worker who does not put as much time into the rigorous training that we do defines ignorance and is an insult to the amount of work I put into my training. I've worked in a traditional 9-5 job when I took a year of from medical school [INVALID] in this 'average' job, I didn't have to be responsible for the lives of 7-10 critically ill patients, while working 72-80 hours a week, and then on top of that going home and reading very intricate literature about these patients for another 1-2 hours a night so that I can learn as much as possible to treat them the best I can. My job was tough, but paled in comparison to what I do now. Oh, and the concept of having more than one day off at a time (which the 'average' American takes for granted) is something we as interns all dream about. I think I've had one weekend day off in the last 10 weeks (and I'm at the 'easy' point of my schedule). I'm not complaining about the number of hours I work a week or the amount of money I get paid [INVALID] I signed the contract knowing what I'm getting into, and don't regret the choice I made. And unlike most of my medical school colleagues, I am very aware of the direction healthcare is headed. But to demean the amount of time and effort I put to get to this point in my training was something that I found deeply offensive. I'm hoping this article was written in jest, because if it wasn't, shame on you HealthLeaders Media [INVALID] I'll be going and canceling my subscription to you right about now.
jennifer.nelson (10/18/2011 at 1:04 PM)

Mr. Commins: I'm not a physician but I've worked for them all my life. While your article tries to focus on the 28% of "whiners" as you call them, it really appears disrespectful to all of our physicians. Since when did physicians not have the right to complain about their choices, work environment, hours, reimbursement, demanding patients, demanding administrators or in particular, what our government is burdening them with in new regulations that are arbitrarily and dictatorially passed down to them almost daily. This is still America after all. We do allow, and most of us participate in, some type of complaining from time to time. Some would even say that it is healthy venting. Do you really expect them to swallow these sour pills of governmental invasion without complaint simply because they make more than most? You compare these "whiners" to convenient store employees. There is so much wrong with that analogy that I'm not even sure where to start. These physicians have dedicated their lives – pretty much put their personal lives on hold for multiple years to study complex information that most of us could not endure or absorb. Convenient store employees, although worthy human beings, are not at the level of training that a physician is nor should they be paid anywhere close to what a physician makes. Most people who are taking our more menial positions in the work place have little or no education and cannot compete financially with the higher educated achievers. This is no mystery to you or to the public at large. We have a few rotten apples out there-that's in every walk of life. If you really feel that picking on a specific group of spoiled, overpaid professionals is important enough for printed material, please feel free to initiate new articles related to professional sports. For that matter, college sports since the love of the game has disappeared to be replaced by the love of money. I'm deeply troubled by what our government is demanding from our physicians. I only wish a portion of those demands were required from our representatives in Washington. We'd certainly be a more stable and respected country. Jennifer Nelson, CPC
M-I-Z-Z-O-U (10/18/2011 at 12:41 PM)

One of the most uninformed pieces I've read in quite some time. You can't compare/contrast the choices and inherent benefits associated with professions residing on opposite spectrums. The option of being either a hospital janitor or a physician does not realistically exist for a particular individual. By employing the author's "logic" (...and I use that term loosely), one could argue that the hard times and "whining" (a term endorsed by the author) associated with being convenience store cashiers or hospital janitors is self-inflicted because they chose not to attend medical school and become physicians. Lambasting a "privileged" physician for being discontent with his/her profession choice is okay? ...while doing the same to a hospital janitor is cruel and politically incorrect.
Frances Adams (10/18/2011 at 10:19 AM)

Cry me a river! Where are you getting your figures about income? I am married to a family physician who makes less money than our daughter who is a teacher. He has been a physician since 1979 (that's when he started residency). He works a minimum of 80 hours per week, although he's being paid for "part-time" work, according to his employer-hospital. He spends time with patients and is financially penalized for that. He hasn't given up, but there are days[INVALID]increasingly so[INVALID]that he asks why he's doing this. The inundation of paperwork and endless justification for insurance companies and government entities for what he wants to prescribe is unbelievable. Six-figure salary? Bring it on! I'd love to have him bring home a six-figure salary. As it stands right now, if he put in the same numebr of hours as a manager at Wal-Mart or Burger King, and was paid the same hourly wage (for the actual hours he works, not the so-called part-time hours he puts in), he'd make the same money. And there'd be no threat of a law suit, either.
Mary in MD (10/18/2011 at 10:07 AM)

John, It would appear that you have a severe case of degree and occupation envy. This curable condition requires 8-12 years of post graduate education and 3-5 years of demanding shifts and call. All while you are accountable for decisions that will impact the life or death of those you are called on to treat. You can spare this time from your family, if you were able to start and keep one, all the while risking legal action from folks who won't take you advice. I'm not sure why you think that professionals who expect to earn a good living should also be satisfied with decreasing income. Are you that altruistic? I'm disappointed that a magizine suppossed to inform the healthcare community was willing to print your diatribe.
Kaiser (10/18/2011 at 8:30 AM)

Useless article. Why would you compare a MD to a janitor?
ed fotsch (10/17/2011 at 7:42 PM)

I always enjoy reading the editorials of the uninformed. Comparing the current challenges of the medical professional to other options available at minimum wage is either the height (or depth) of naivety. The truth is that a kid who can get into med school could be a chemical engineer, a biochemist, a horticulture major working for Monsanto, etc. etc. News flash for the author- kids with those majors are doing just fine and don't face a future of being a non-unionized federal government worker. As for keeping up with current events of the economy- has the author ever met a college freshman ('hint- that's when the decision to apply to med school typically kicks in) who was up to date on macro (or micro) economics. And lest we spend too many cycles on the young docs- have you seen any recent surveys on the career satisfaction of middle-aged docs??? What new elixir can the author concoct to explain their malaise? Suggestion for the editor- 'Go to med school. Go $160k in debt. Work your can off for 5 years in your residency until you are 30 years old. Then try to pay off the loans and raise a family- with a graduated tax code that picks a bit more of your pocket each time you try to put an extra nickel in! Unless/until you've been there... your view is from the cheap seats! Edward Fotsch, MD
JoAnne nurse (10/17/2011 at 5:54 PM)

Thank for this realistic and timely article. With so many suffering through these poor economic times, it is nauseating to know 1 of 4 priveledged young physicians are whinig about living a soon to be rewarding life.