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How Age Affects Physician Satisfaction


Our 2013 Great American Survey, Sponsored by Kareo, suggests older physicians are happier with their careers.

Do you think a doctor’s happiness is based on how old he or she is? If so, you’re right, according to our 2013 Great American Physician Survey, Sponsored by Kareo.

The survey of 1,172 physicians revealed that 56 percent strongly agree with the statement “I like being a physician.” But when data is sorted by age, the numbers tell a different story.

For the youngest docs who answered our survey - those ages 35 and under - 47 percent said they strongly agreed with the statement “I like being a physician.” Forty-three percent of physicians ages 36-45 strongly agreed, but after age 45, that percentage rose sharply. Fifty-six percent of doctors ages 46-55 strongly agreed with that statement, as did 61 percent of doctors ages 55-64, and 72 percent of doctors ages 65 and older.

Likewise, while just 41 percent of the youngest, 35-and-under providers said they strongly agree with the statement “I’m fairly happy with my selection of specialty,” that number catapulted to 64 percent for their oldest counterparts, those ages 65 and up.

When asked if they would do everything the same if given the choice of another career path, 52 percent of the 35-and-unders said they wouldn’t change a thing, but nearly one out of three in that age range said they’d do something in a profession other than healthcare. Meanwhile, 72 percent of the 65-and-overs said they’d do roughly everything the same, while only 13 percent would opt for a do-over.

The results aren’t necessarily surprising. Third-party interference, the number one annoyance cited by survey respondents, is increasing. Financial pressures, beginning with medical school debt, are also mounting. Many practices are still feeling the effects of the economic slowdown, and the pressure to see a higher volume of patients to keep their bottom lines intact. And that’s just the beginning.

“Physicians are older, such as me, were glad we went to medical school,” Walker Ray, a 72-year-old retired solo pediatrician and vice president of The Physicians Foundation, which recently put out its own survey of physicians, told Physicians Practice. “We enjoyed the good times when there was a better doctor-patient relationship, when reimbursement was less of a hassle.”

Full data for this year’s survey will be available online in mid-August 2013 and in the September 2013 issue of Physicians Practice.

Do you feel your age is correlated with your happiness as a physician? If given the chance, would you opt for a do-over?



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