Employed surgeons rise by 32%

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Confirming the hospital employment trend, a database study published yesterday in the Archives of Surgery found that surgeons are opting for employment over private practice, with 68 percent of general surgeons and surgical subspecialists reporting they are employed. From 2006 to 2011, the number of surgeons in a full-time employment arrangement  jumped by nearly a third at 32 percent.

Researchers found that the employment model in large group practices particularly attracts female surgeons and younger doctors.

The study confirms other research of the employment explosion in all specialties. According to consulting firm Accenture, only 36 percent of the nation's projected 792,594 practicing doctors will have a practice ownership stake by the end of 2013, reported American Medical News, which likened the picture of the independent physician to a Norman Rockwell painting as a thing of the past.

Similarly, recruiting firm Merritt Hawkins predicts the industry will see 75 percent of the nation's physicians employed by hospitals in 2014. For the seventh year in a row, family physicians and general internists remain the two most requested physician search assignments. Other high-demand doctors include psychiatrists, general surgeons, emergency medicine physicians, orthopedic surgeons, obstetrician/gynecologists, pulmonologists, urologists, dermatologists and hematologists/oncologists.

Health reform is pushing the employment model, with reduced reimbursements and the burden of administrative costs as primary motivators for physicians to give up their practices. Nevertheless, experts say that doesn't mean they have to surrender their independence completely. Other models, including accountable care organizations and expansions with hospitals, could help physicians survive, Becker's ASC Review reported.

"Surgery centers can also be providers in markets where there are sophisticated independent physician groups," said Cliff Deveny, vice president for physician practice management at Colorado's Catholic Health Initiative. "They can provide observation beds and 23 hour stays, urgent care and procedure rooms."

For more information:
- check out the study abstract and the editorial
- read the amednews article
- here's the Becker's article

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