Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Doctors Feeling Gloomy?

By Shawn Vuong

Yesterday I was talking about my worries of becoming a
bitter doctor.  But why do doctors loose morale?  Today, Sarah Rubenstein of the WSJ gave me some insight on this matter.

Here are some of the bracing findings from 11,950 primary care docs and specialists who responded to the survey:

94% said the time they’ve devote to non-clinical paperwork in the past three years has increased. 63% said the paperwork has meant they spend less time per patient.

82% said their practices would be “unsustainable” if proposed Medicare pay cuts were made.

78% believe there is a shortage of primary care docs in the U.S.

49% said that over the next three years they plan to reduce the number of patients they see or stop practicing entirely.

60% would not recommend medicine as a career to young people.

42% said professional morale is either “poor” or “very low.”

17% rated the financial position of their practices as “healthy and profitable.”

6% described morale of their colleagues as “positive.”

Wow, if that isn't depressing I don't know what is.  Paper work, a shortage of doctors, and low morale possibly through low reimbursements, insurance controlling care, and less doctor-patient time.  I may be wet behind the ears in the world of medicine, but I can tell you one thing, I am going into medicine to take care of people.  If a primary care physician told me that all the paper work they do keeps them from seeing the patient, I'd dodge primary care like the plague.  Many other medical students already are dodging away from primary care.

A couple questions come to mind after reading this.  First and most obvious question, how do we fix this?  Also, since Dr. Holm is a family doctor himself, I would like to know what his general opinion is on this article.  Is morale really low here in South Dakota?  Are family physicians here feeling the pinch of administrative work, low reimbursements, and insurance control?

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