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Anesthesiologists Express Frustration with the "Business" of Medicine


10/11/2007 12:00:00 AM

Anesthesiologists Express Frustration with the "Business" of Medicine Physician Survey Shows Reimbursement, Administration as Key Frustrations

ALPHARETTA, GA, October 11, 2007 "I'd pay doctors and nurses like professional athletes!" That was one anesthesiologist's unaided answer to the physician survey question, "If you could change one thing about practicing medicine, what would it be?"

Among more than 300 other anesthesiologist responses to the 2007 national physician survey conducted in summer 2007 by physician recruiting firm were these:

  • "I would return the patient-doctor relationship to one of greater trust and cut out the intervention of the "suits" who deem what is and is not necessary in a patient's care."
  • "Get the government and insurance companies to quit micromanaging medicine."
  • "The dehumanization brought on by over-emphasis on efficiency and cost savings."

"After spending a decade of their lives in education and training and often accumulating great debt in the process, physicians are understandably frustrated by the limits within which they must work in today's healthcare marketplace," Vice President Lisa Kaeck said. "The high frustration level pushes many anesthesiologists into locum tenens work, where they can enjoy practicing pure medicine." She noted that anesthesiologists from across the country will be gathering for the American Society of Anesthesiologists annual convention in San Francisco beginning this Saturday, October 13.

Anesthesiologists Identify Frustrations

Among 419 anesthesiologists responding to the physician survey, only 6% said they were not frustrated about practicing medicine in today's healthcare marketplace. Remaining respondents identified with a list of possible physician frustrations as follows:

  • Reimbursement issues - 29%
  • Administrative and business agendas interfere with clinical decisions - 20%
  • Medical liability issues - 15%
  • Lifestyle issues: Too much time at work - 14%
  • Federal regulations, policies, procedures - 12%

Twenty-eight percent of responding anesthesiologists said they planned to change jobs within the next year and, including those, 37% said they planned to change jobs within 2 years. Thirty-three percent of respondents cited 'higher compensation' as the top reason for making a job change, while 31% cited 'better work environment.' However, 55% said they had no plans to change jobs in the foreseeable future (up from 53% of 2006 respondents).

In spite of their frustration, more than two-thirds of anesthesiologists responding to the physician survey (69%) said they would choose medicine as a career path if they had it to do over again. This represents a three-percentage-point increase from the 66% of responding anesthesiologists who said they'd choose medicine again in's 2006 physician survey, and with 2007 respondents from other specialties as follows:

  • 79% of psychiatrists
  • 77% of cardiologists
  • 76% of internists
  • 75% of pediatricians
  • 65% of general surgeons, orthopedic surgeons and radiologists
  • 59% of obstetricians/gynecologists

Seventy-eight percent of anesthesiologist survey participants were male, 78% were board-certified and 80% were employed full-time. Respondents had practiced medicine for an average of 16 years. Almost half (48%) of respondents said they had worked as a locum tenens provider and another 46% said they might consider it. Those who reported working locum tenens said they do so for about four months per year. Best of Staffing Client Logo Best of Staffing Talent Logo Fortune Best Workplace Logo NALTO Logo Beyond Profit Logo