2010 Great American Physician Survey: Why Not Be a Doc?

September 17, 2010

In our latest survey, we also asked respondents to pick one reason not to be a physician. Not surprisingly, the most common answer was, "The stress is too high." Runner-up was that being a physician is not as personally or professionally rewarding.

Note: This is the second in a series of blog entries about the results of our 2010 Physicians Practice Great American Physician Survey. Full results are now available at www.physicianspractice.com/great-american-physician-survey. Read the first part of the series here.

You know those days when you wish you hadn't become a physician at all? Although our Great American Physician survey found that most of you were indeed quite happy, the pressures of practice medicine today can really get you down. (In fact, we found that 86 percent of you are glad to be physicians, and the median score of happiness was 7.5 out of ten. Not bad.)

In our latest survey, we also asked respondents to pick one reason not to be a physician. Not surprisingly, the most common answer was, "The stress is too high." Runner-up was that being a physician is not as personally or professionally rewarding.

We also gave the option for respondents to write in their own responses. Here's a sample:

• "There’s too much government and insurance company intervention telling me what to do."
• "I'm a bean counter and a paper pusher."
• "The increasing workload and declining reimbursement are making it much less rewarding to practice."
• "There's too much regulation and interference from outside sources."
• "All of the above."

We hear these concerns a lot. You’re stressed, burned out, tired of dealing with declining reimbursements and long hours. But, there is help out there. There are ways to make sure you get paid for the work you do, alternatives to running your practice, techniques for finding some stress relief. In an effort to pull together some of the best guidance from Physicians Practice, we recently published a guide, "Achieving Success and Balance," available here.

In the meantime, I'll provide a bit of sage advice from family doctor Douglas Farrago: Let yourself laugh. Farrago created the Placebo Journal, a monthly publication of funny jokes and stories aimed at letting physicians laugh at themselves. Commiseration can ease that feeling of solitude, he says. He told me: "You can laugh at some of the things you do and realize you are walking in the same shoes as someone else."

So I welcome your feedback: What’s the one reason you’d pick for not being a physician?

And what do you do to relieve the stress?