The new healthcare landscape has brought with it a change in the way doctors work.
Now, many doctors are having to choose between doing what they love and their career, or whether or not they should stay in the profession.
A new survey of medical professionals by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that just over half of doctors in their mid-20s and 30s are planning to leave the field, as they see their salaries drop as a result of a rising cost of living and rising healthcare costs.
But doctors themselves aren’t all leaving the profession—many are choosing to stay on for the same reasons they left.
The survey found that doctors who left their jobs between the 2016 and 2017 academic years had seen their pay decrease by 5% to 7% and were paying an average of $3,900 more in their retirement.
And the majority of doctors said they felt that their pay was not being adequately compensated.
Doctors are choosing careers that they love.
Nearly two-thirds (63%) of doctors say they would recommend their own careers to their patients if they could, compared to just 14% of doctors who said the same about the medical workforce overall.
They also say that they’re happier working in their current profession.
Nearly six-in-ten (57%) of physicians who would recommend a career to a patient say they’re happy doing so, compared with 43% of those who would not recommend their career.
Doctors feel more comfortable in their jobs than in the workplace, too.
Nearly four-in‐ten (38%) doctors say their workplace is more welcoming than their own, while about a quarter (26%) of those with no career preference say they feel more welcomed in their workplace than in their own.
One-third (34%) of the respondents said their job would make it harder to be open about their health, while 13% said their work makes it easier.
“When I left the hospital, I knew it was time to get a new career, so I decided to take the leap and work in my own field,” says Dr. Susan Burch, a professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
“I also felt that I could take the time to take care of myself and I was excited to do so, and I’m glad I did.
And I think that was part of the reason why I wanted to do it.”
But Dr. Burch says that while she’s very happy to be in her own field, it’s not her job to be the face of healthcare in the community.
“It’s not my job to tell the story of healthcare and what it means to patients and what the impact it’s having on patients and families and our society,” she says.
Dr. Scott A. Smith, president and CEO of the American Medical Association, believes that the AMA is not the only group that’s been affected by the new healthcare realities.
“We’re still seeing this shift, and it’s happening to a much larger number of doctors,” he says.
“The AMA has not been alone in seeing this and has been working hard to make sure that doctors are well-informed and know what their options are.”
A New Professionals In 2017, the American Academy of Pediatrics adopted a position statement that says “there is no medical specialty that is more suited to care for children and adolescents than primary care.”
The American College of Surgeons’ 2017 report on health professionals noted that there are a wide range of professions that can be performed by physicians, including home health aides, physical therapists, nurse practitioners, and nurses.
Bunch and Smith say they expect doctors to continue to be welcomed and appreciated in their profession.
“Doctors are people too,” Dr. Smith says.
He believes that this is why doctors are choosing their careers.
“As a doctor, you’re going to be doing a lot of work, and you’re not going to get the same level of pay as a nurse or a physical therapist,” he explains.
“And there are some very special jobs that you’re really going to want to be able to do, but you’ll also want to make that sacrifice for the community.”
Dr. Paul A. Vigna, a former chief of pediatric cardiology at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, agrees.
“There is no career path that will lead to the medical profession,” he notes.
“If you want to do the job, you have to do something else.”
In fact, the AMA’s 2017 policy statement on physicians calls for them to be included as an “essential occupational specialty” in their professions, and says they should be allowed to work in their chosen fields.
But, despite these guidelines, many healthcare professionals are hesitant to move away from their current professions, even though they know that the healthcare system will eventually pay for it.
One reason for this is that many doctors don’t know if they will ever be able find a new job in their field, says