Survey: 40% of docs would pick a new career if they could turn back time

Forty percent of doctors would pick a different career if they had to do it all over again, according to the 2013 Great American Physician Survey.

The fifth annual survey asked 1,172 physicians about politics, work-life balance, and measured their career satisfaction. Although 60 percent of docs are still content with practicing medicine, the other 40 percent expressed unhappiness with third-party interference (32 percent), lack of adequate insurance coverage for patients (37 percent) and lack of time to adequately educate patients on better health strategies (19 percent).

"There is an idealistic naïveté that many of us going into medicine have when starting our path from undergraduate college onward," Suleman Bhana, M.D., a rheumatologist who practices with a medical group in Summit, N.J, told Physicians Practice, which published the survey.

Bhana is among the 60 percent of physicians still happy with his career choice, which he described as emotionally and intellectually rewarding. But he expressed frustration with the challenges of trying to provide quality care to his patients amid the demands of a convoluted billing and coding system, exhausting work schedule and the burden of medical school debt.

"We have notions of what a physician is perhaps from television, movies, personal encounters as a patient, or family and friends who are physicians. …For those of us practicing in the U.S., once we get into residency training, the curtain of the powerful Oz is pulled back and we see the deep inner workings of [a] highly dysfunctional system that does not reward health nor does it reward care," he told the publication.

Among the other key findings:

  • 35 percent support the Affordable Care Act but would make a few tweaks to the law
  • 52 percent report they can't see moving to a concierge practice model
  • 43 percent said a direct-pay model is something they'd consider
  • 29 percent have a direct hand in the operation of their practice as a solo doctor
  • 59 percent work 41 to 60 hours a week
  • Only 14 percent plan to walk away or retire from medicine in the next five years

For more:
- here's the announcement
- read the survey highlights
- check out the Physicians Practice article