Many physicians would probably tell you overall they are happy, love their job, and if they had the choice, would do it all over again. While that doesn't mean running a medical practice has become easier, it does mean that physicians are finding plenty of avenues for job satisfaction. And there is still room to carve out a practice style or model that works for each individual.
Alan Menkes, an internal medicine physician who works for a telemedicine company, is "seeing" his patients virtually through video chats and telephone calls. It was a conscious choice for him to slow down and choose family time over a greater salary. He has had a long career working in diverse practice settings, but in anticipation of the birth his daughter, he decided to slow the pace.
"My military contract was up in October, I had a baby on the way, and I made a life changing decision. Let me work from home on telemedicine. I don't want my tombstone to read, 'I wish I had made more rounds at the ICU,'" Menkes says.
Even though he's made the choice to slow down, Menkes says he loves being a physician and has never regretted his career decision. His outlook mirrors that of the physicians we surveyed in our 2015 Great American Physician Survey, Sponsored by Kareo. Physicians tell us while they are frustrated with factors such as increasing third-party interference, they overwhelmingly like being a physician. And they seem to be doing a better job of balancing personal and professional obligations. Here's how they are doing it.
*If you'd like to see how you measure up compared to your peers, visit the full results of our Great American Physician survey.
DOING IT MY WAY
Despite recent bellwether changes taking place in government programs like the elimination of the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate formula and possible softening of requirements for meeting meaningful use, the physicians who responded to our survey indicated that "too much third-party influence" is still a major irritant to practicing medicine. Forty percent of respondents claim that is their biggest frustration with being physician. Contrast that with 13.8 percent (the second highest-scoring answer) who said their declining ability to practice independently caused the most angst.
Likely that frustration is aggravated by feeling impotent when it comes to influencing government programs and mandates, like meaningful use of an EHR or adopting ICD-10. In fact, many physicians that we spoke to say they have little to no influence over how they will implement government mandates in their practices, nor do they have the time to become involved with local politics or lobbying groups like state medical societies to try and change that. But they are dealing with that frustration in a variety of ways, and by no means are they throwing in the towel.
Nick Hernandez, CEO of ABISA, a consulting firm specializing in small-group practice management, agrees that physicians can feel powerless, and says often times they seek out employed positions so that their employer can deal with government demands. "Most of the docs I talk to feel like they have absolutely no power whatsoever when it comes to government influence. … And so the docs are going toward the employment model. … One of the reasons is because they don't have to worry about having to fight with government [mandates] and regulatory issues breathing down their neck," says Hernandez.