Posted by: Chris Maloney | October 24, 2013

Healthcare Changes: Would You Want To Be A Doctor Today?

English: President signing the Medicare Bill a...

English: President signing the Medicare Bill at the in . Former President is seated at the table with President Johnson. The following are in the background (from left to right): Senator , an unidentified man, , Senator , Vice President , and . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not sure what medscape meant to do by sending out the recent survey of twenty-one thousand doctors over twenty-five specialties.  (Survey here).  But I found the information interesting and sometimes surprising.  So I’ve summarized it here.

How Satisfied Are Doctors?  It Depends.

When you survey doctors about why they do their jobs, 34% said that being good at their job was most rewarding.  31% said it was the gratitude of their patients.  Only 9% said making good money.

In 2011, 69% of doctors said they would choose medicine as a career again. In 2012, it was 54%.  In 2013, it was 51%.  Fewer would choose the same specialty (42%) and fewer still the same practice setting (19%).

The most satisfied doctors were dermatologists (74%), ophthalmologists (61%), and urologists (60%). The least satisfied were ob/gyns (37%), family doctors (28%) and internists (19%).  The lowest paid doctors, HIV/ID, were the second most satisfied group.

Does More Money Make Them More Satisfied?  No.

The highest paid doctors were orthopedists (400k) and the lowest were family care, pediatricians, and HIV doctors (170k). Orthopedic surgeons‘ incomes were up 27% since 2011 and Nephrology and Neurology were up almost 20%.

Despite having the highest salaries of anyone in medicine (400k), with a 27% raise in two years, only 44% of orthopedists were satisfied with their careers in medicine. Only 37% of them would choose medicine as a career, and only 39% of them felt fairly compensated for the work they did.  I guess they should all drop 200k to become HIV docs, of whom 46% felt fairly compensated at 170k.

What’s going to happen in the future?  Same.

Looking ahead, less than half of doctors feel fairly compensated. 2% of doctors do a concierge practice, and 4% do a cash-only practice.  Almost 25% will be in an ACO by next year.  10% of doctors will stop taking Medicare patients, while 59% will continue and 29% haven’t decided. 23% of doctors plan to drop poor paying insurers, 20% said they need every dime they can get, and 18% said that dropping insurers and leaving patients without care is inappropriate behavior.

Do Doctors Talk About Costs With Patients? Sometimes.

30% of doctors regularly discuss treatment costs with patients, 38% will talk about it if the patient brings it up, 6% feel it is inappropriate to discuss costs and 10% don’t know the costs of the services they provide.

What Is The Current Doctor’s Workload Like?  Wide Variation.

Most doctors see patients less than 50 hours a week, but 25% of doctors see more than 100 patients a week. Half of doctors spend between 13 and 17 minutes with a patient.  20% spend less than 9 minutes and 12% spend 25 minutes or more. 20% of doctors spend less than 5 hours on paperwork every week, while almost 20% spend more than 20 hours a week on paperwork.  Pathologists had it the worst, while urologists spent the least time with forms.

Would You Want to Be a Doctor Today?

Chances are good if you’ve read this far, you might be interested in medicine as a career.  We can make some good predictions about how well someone might do.  If you want to be a doctor, here are some things to avoid:

Don’t be a woman: Male docs make 30% more than female docs, but in primary care they only earn 17% more.

Don’t Live in the Northeast: Docs in the Northeast earned the least (averaging 228k) while those in the plains states averaged 259k.

Don’t Go Into Primary Care Or Research:  If you want to maximize your money, don’t become an academic.  Become a partner in a single-specialty practice.  You can average almost an extra hundred thousand a year over solo practice.

Do get board certified, which is worth an extra 100k a year.

In a nutshell, the incomes of doctors have been rising, and we’re still seeing the same level of satisfaction we did ten or fifteen years ago.  Most doctors aren’t planning any major changes in the near future, and insurance is still the name of the game.

 

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