Physicians Report Growing Dissatisfaction with "Business" of Medicine


9/24/2007 12:00:00 AM


Physicians Report Growing Dissatisfaction with "Business" of Medicine Survey Highlights Issues That May Worsen a Growing Physician Shortage

Alpharetta, Ga., September 24, 2007

In a decade when it seems the news media report a physician shortage in another U.S. community or medical specialty weekly, physicians report increasing frustration with practicing medicine in today's healthcare marketplace.

Out of almost 2,400 physicians responding to a national survey conducted this summer by (, only 3% said they were not frustrated by nonclinical aspects of their profession. The remaining respondents identified with a list of possible frustrations as follows:

  • Reimbursement issues - 29%
  • Administrative and business agendas interfere with clinical decisions - 22%
  • Medical liability issues - 19%
  • Lifestyle issues: Too much time at work - 15%
  • Federal regulations, policies, procedures - 8%

"Most physicians don't go into medicine for the money," Senior Vice President Pamela McKemie said. "However, many don't anticipate the business challenges of practicing medicine today, and they dislike that nonclinical concerns-like getting paid for services rendered or justifying treatment plans-take them away from their primary focus of caring for patients."

Physician Shortage Documented

The findings follow the release over the past few years of considerable data validating a growing physician shortage in the United States. For example:

  • While the U.S. population grew by 30% over the last quarter-century (according to the U.S. Census Bureau), the number of physicians produced by U.S. medical schools has remained flat at approximately 16,000 physicians per year since 1980, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).
  • In an October 2006 report titled "Physician Supply and Demand: Projections to 2020," the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration projected a shortfall of 55,100 physicians in 2020, primarily in non-primary-care specialties.
  • In a statement released September 29, 2006, American Medical Association President-Elect Edward Langston acknowledged a growing U.S, physician shortage and pledged the association's continued support for regions and specialties in need of more doctors.
  • In a June 2006 report the AAMC called for, among other things, a 30% increase in accredited medical school enrollment by 2015 and elimination of the current Medicare restriction on the number of funded residency positions so that graduate medical education programs can accommodate more graduates of accredited U.S. medical schools.
  • Five years ago Richard Cooper, MD, former director of the Health Policy Institute at the Medical College of Wisconsin and a national expert on physician workforce issues, projected a 50,000-physician shortage by 2010 that could grow to as many as 200,000 physicians by 2020.

Medical Practice Affirmed

Regardless of their frustration, almost three-fourths of respondents (72%) said they would choose medicine if they had their careers to plan again. The responses break out by specialty (from most satisfied with practicing medicine to least satisfied) as follows:

Internal Medicine
General Surgery
Orthopedic Surgery

"What is reassuring about our survey results is the generally altruistic tone of physicians' answers regarding what they like most about practicing medicine," McKemie said. "The vast majority talked about the satisfaction of doing something that matters, the intellectual stimulation of solving clinical challenges, or the thrill of actually implementing medical procedures." received more than 1,900 physician responses on this topic.

Regarding compensation, the physician salary survey results indicate averages by specialty (those staffed by, as follows:

  • Anesthesiology $340,444
  • General Surgery $259,896
  • Psychiatry $169,833
  • Radiology $479,629

What Physicians Would Change About Practicing Medicine-Sample Comments:

"Give the practice of medicine back to the physician."

"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."

"Bureaucracy, excessive paperwork, placing the dollar above a patient's well-being."

"Restrict business people entering the management of medical practice and (the) doctor-patient relationship."

"A little more reimbursement, less paperwork, more actual patient interaction."

"Influence of dollars on diagnosis and practice"

"The dehumanization brought on by over-emphasis on efficiency and cost savings"

"It has gotten to be too much of a business and less about the patient."

Founded in 1995, is a full-service physician/CRNA recruiting firm specializing in supplemental placement of anesthesiologists, cardiologists, psychiatrists, radiologists, surgeons and CRNAs with U.S. hospitals, medical groups and community health centers. is part of the Jackson Healthcare family of companies. To learn more, visit

Media Contact:
Deb Zelnio
888-268-2456 Best of Staffing Client Logo Best of Staffing Talent Logo Fortune Best Workplace Logo NALTO Logo Beyond Profit Logo