Alarming Numbers of Practicing Physicians Find Little Satisfaction in Practice of Medicine

March 05, 2015
Heather Lavoie, Chief Strategy Officer, Geneia


Today, Geneia released the results of our nationwide career satisfaction survey of practicing physicians. The findings are alarming. For starters: 84% of physicians believe quality patient time may be a thing of the past, and 67% of those surveyed know a physician who is likely to stop practicingmedicine in the next five years as the result of burnout.

And as every physician, every diagnostician knows, the numbers—whether they’re statistics or lab results—are important. But so is listening to the patient, hearing the patient describe the problem in their own words. And so it is with diagnosing physician dissatisfaction.

In our survey, we asked physicians to describe in their own words the obstacles that detract from their “joy” in practicing medicine. We received comments from 416 physicians, and while 14 of them told us that they’re still experiencing joy in medicine, the rest—402 physicians—told us, in very clear terms, that they are not. Most often cited as the top complaint? The corporatization of medicine, and the resulting recordkeeping and patient quotas demanded.

What Physicians Really Feel When It Comes To Career Satisfaction:

“To me, the joy of medicine is getting to know patients over time and working with them to improve or maintain their health. Given regulations, decreased compensation and more administrative demands,

“I have been very burned out for the past 2 years. I am leaving medicine at the end of March because I no longer enjoy my practice.”

“The joy is interaction with people. The greatest detractor from this is the record keeping and quality data inputs that have mushroomed with EHR.”

“With so much time needed for documentation and coding, and the need to see many patients in a small time period, there is not much time to actually enjoy treating a patient's condition and watching them improve over time.”

“I always feel behind, stressed and overworked.”

“I feel like I work on an assembly line.”

“Medicine today is about data entry, EMR, and tracking. Less and less time is spent meeting patient’s needs.”

“Joy of medicine is spending time with patient and family in treating the patient. Biggest obstacle is that doctors are being asked to do more and more menial and clerical work that take away this time.”

“The joy is simply interacting with people and using your knowledge to help them. It's ALL the outside issues and influences that lessen this joy.”

“Record keeping has added 10 hours per week to my work week without any benefit to patient care or reimbursement.”

As one who has worked with physicians throughout much of my career, I’m alarmed at the depth of dissatisfaction that today’s physicians are feeling, and feel compelled to do something about it.

At the same time that physicians have grown increasingly weary and frustrated from the business and regulation of healthcare and many are looking to leave medicine, our reliance on physicians, especially primary care physicians, has grown. Add to that the fact that fewer grads are entering medical school. On top of that, over the next 18 years, boomers will be turning 65 at a rate of about 8,000 a day. When you factor in increasing life expectancy and a scarcity of caregivers to tend the aging population, the U.S. is on the verge of a crisis in medical care.

How Did We Get To So Much Physician Dissatisfaction?

We have been building up to this over many years—it started with the introduction of capitation in the 1980s and with doctors increasingly selling their practices to health plans and hospitals because of an interest in exiting the “business” side of medicine.

Leap forward to today, where there is massive consolidation within and across integrated delivery networks. Now overlay the rapid increase in performance measurement, the drive to meaningful use, a focus on efficiency and greater regulation, and things have really come to a head.

At Geneia, we believe that physicians need to be at the heart of solving the medical care crisis. Physicians must be the leaders, the designers, the innovators—and recipients—of solutions.

That’s why we created the Joy of Medicine Challenge, a competition to solicit and reward ideas from U.S.-licensed physicians about how to best restore the meaning behind the practice of medicine.

We’ve partnered with Medstro to encourage physicians to submit any and all ideas they have to help reignite the passion for being a doctor. Big ideas, little ideas, disruptive ideas, any ideas.

Selected winners of the top three ideas will each receive $1,000, with one of the winners receiving in-kind Geneia consulting resources valued at $5,000 to help refine and execute their idea.

We hope you share our passion for averting further physician dissatisfaction. Join us now to help rediscover the Joy of Medicine, before it’s too late. Join the challenge at: https://medstro.com/groups/joy.