Young Physicians Less Optimistic Due to
By Aubrey Westgate
May 8, 2012
The following article appeared in the April 28, 2012 physicianspractice.com. The interview features comments Walker Ray, MD, VP of the Physicians Foundation. The yellow highlights results of the survey and Doctor Walker's comments.
Young physicians are losing out on the
excitement and optimism that the first few years of medical practice typically
That’s according to a new
report released by The Physicians Foundation, which asked 500 physicians
age 40 and younger how they feel about medical practice. Fifty-seven percent
said they are pessimistic about the future of the U.S. healthcare
“My only surprise is that these physicians show the
pessimism, and the disaffection, and the angst so soon in their careers,”
pediatrician Walker Ray, vice president of The Physicians
Foundation, told Physicians Practice. “When a physician finishes
training …there’s an exhilaration, there’s a wonderful feeling of accomplishment
that finally all of this work, and travail, and difficulty is behind
Unfortunately, those positive feelings are
quickly being hampered by, most notably, “new health legislation” and financial
issues, according to the survey.
“These young doctors are
feeling the same thing that we’re feeling,” said Ray, referring to his
older colleagues. “There is an imperative now to be caring for more and more
patients, to provide higher perceived quality at less cost, there’s increased
reporting and tracking demands, and the regulatory environment is increasing as
we speak. There’s also an environment of high potential liability, problematic
reimbursement — and all this puts tremendous stress on the physician
And while one might think that young physicians
are more adaptable to change, and as a result, more accepting of healthcare
reform than their older colleagues, that is not the case, according to the
survey. Forty-nine percent of respondents said the Affordable Care Act will
negatively influence their practices; only 23 percent said it would benefit
It’s important to
acknowledge that physicians believe there are some good things about healthcare
reform, such as expanded insurance coverage and restrictions on insurers
regarding patient access to insurance, said Ray.
But the health law fails to
address key issues such as the malpractice liability climate, the physician
shortage, and the flawed Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate payment formula.
“Physicians were looking for some relief from healthcare reform and we don’t
feel we got it, we got more burdens,” he said.
The survey begs the question: Would young
physicians just out of residency have made other choices if healthcare reform
had been implemented before they went to medical school?
Many might have, according to a 2011 survey of
final-year medical residents
physician recruitment firm Merritt Hawkins. Twenty-nine percent of 300
respondents said if they had a chance to start over, they would not choose a
career in medicine. In 2008, when final-year residents were asked that same
question, that number was just 18 percent.
“Word is getting back
downstream, which has to be worrisome for all of us who care about the workforce
being adequate to meet the needs of population,” said Ray. “Not only are
these young physicians in the [Physician Foundation] survey disaffected, but
it’s getting down to the resident level.”
Overall, the survey results emphasize a need
for change. More physicians need to be trained to combat the physician shortage,
but until things change to make physician careers more appealing, it’s going to
be hard to attract students to the medical field.
Tweet: A Physicians Founmdation survey of final-year residents indicates young physicians are deelply apprehensive about their futures; 29% of 300 residents said they would not choose medicine as a profession if they were to start over.
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