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By now you’ve heard all the assumptions that people make about doctors. You’re a bunch of wealthy, country-club Republicans driving Beemers and living near golf courses. Or are you?
By now you’ve heard all the assumptions that people make about doctors. You’re a bunch of wealthy, country-club Republicans driving Beemers and living near golf courses. You’re mostly male, mostly 50 or older, conservative both politically and personally.
You’re not happy with your career, despite your success. You’re overworked, underpaid, taken for granted, and getting damned resentful about it. You hardly ever see your family anymore.
You’re proud to be a physician. But if you had to do it all over again, you might have just gone to law school or gotten an MBA, or maybe you should have become an orthodontist like your cousin Joe.
Does all that sound about right? Because if it does, then you should know: You’re in the minority.
Yeah, I was pretty surprised, too. But today’s physician is more likely to be a Democrat than a Republican; is not, contrary to popular belief, unhappy with her career path or pessimistic about the future of doctors; and is pretty healthy and happy, despite some complaints about work-life balance. The modern American doctor is, in short, boringly and blissfully consistent in most respects with the majority of other Americans.
How do I know all this? Because we asked. And you told us. As part of our first ever Great American Physician Survey, we asked more than 1,500 doctors about their personal and professional lives, their general sense of well being, and their attitudes toward life and politics. Look for all the dirt in our October issue, print and online at PhysiciansPractice.com. Meanwhile, here’s some of what raised my eyebrows when I looked through the data:
There’s much more of this data that we’ll reveal in October; put it together and one begins to see a richer, more textured picture of American physicians. You are a diverse group, resistant to consensus and not easily characterized. In fact, the only cliché about doctors that seems to hold true is my favorite one of all: you’re complicated.
Bob Keaveney is executive editor for Physicians Practice. Have you noticed changes in the nature of American physicians over the last 10 or 20 years? Tell him about it at firstname.lastname@example.org. And don’t forget to check out our new blog: Practice Notes.
This article originally appeared in the September 2009 issue of Physicians Practice.