View Full Version : 50% of Primary Care Docs Looking to Quit, Retire, Cut Back Hours

Nov 18, 2008, 02:52 PM

(CNN) -- Nearly half the respondents in a survey of U.S. primary care physicians said that they would seriously consider getting out of the medical business within the next three years if they had an alternative.

thought it was interesting. :)


A new U.S. survey found that 49 percent of 11,950 primary care physicians said they want to stop practicing or reduce their patient loads during the next three years due to frustration caused by having to deal with non-clinical paperwork, difficulties being reimbursed by insurance companies, and too many government regulations.

"Tens of thousands of primary care doctors face the same problems as millions of ordinary citizens: frustrations in dealing with HMOs and government red tape," said Sandra Johnson, a board member of the Physicians' Foundation, which released the survey, United Press International reported.

"The thing we heard over and over again from the physicians was that they're unhappy they can't spend more time with their patients, which is why they went into primary care in the first place," Johnson said in a news release.

update: After tracking down the original PDF it looks like the headline is a little misleading: http://www.physiciansfoundations.org/usr_doc/Key_Findings_for_Website.pdf

11% of the 49% will retire, so I don't know if that counts.


Nov 18, 2008, 02:53 PM
If you don't like your job, then quit.

Simple as that.

I certainly don't want someone blase about my health and well being.

Nov 18, 2008, 02:57 PM

thought it was interesting. :)


I thought this was going to have some sort of political spin on it seeing that it would be just during the time of Obama's administration, but in reading the article, they make some pretty good points. A friend of my family is a PCP, and just recently retired because he thought it was time, plus the rising cost of insurance coverage was just too much. The practice is still there and he still runs that as head of the company (his wife spawned off a separate billing company that does that just for his offices), he stays current with his license, but insurance costs have been skyrocketing since 2002. So I can see where doctors in this article are saying..

If you don't like your job, then quit.

Simple as that.

I certainly don't want someone blase about my health and well being.

It isn't quite as simple for a doctor, especially with all the money going out for med school, loans, getting your license, place to practice, staff, the entire lot. If you can't afford to quit, you can't quit. You're having to grin and bear it until you can.


Nov 18, 2008, 02:59 PM

thought it was interesting. :)


That just shows that 50% of Primary Care docs aren't in their right mind.

Seriously. It's cool to help people, but it's entirely UNCOOL to see the things people have wrong with them.

A coworker of my fiancee got SCABIES from a passenger they had to screen (TSA work)... that's just disgusting. I can't imagine the things doctors pick up from their patients.

Not to mention this lady boarded a plane, so anyone who sat in that seat after her probably ended up with scabies too.

Nov 18, 2008, 06:23 PM
The government has not quite yet figured out how to subsidize preventive medicine, primary care, and integrated health systems. In Britain, general practitioners were awarded bonuses based on compliance with preventive medicine standards and so forth, and most of them saw their pay increase drastically.

Frankly, I think we need to let the whole system crash and burn. As a medical student and public health epidemiologist, I find myself torn between seeing my potential future income plummet (my medical side) and knowing that the present system generally disregards salient public health principles (my public health side).

I will graduate with close to $300,000 dollars worth of debt. I would love to do primary care, and would not hesitate for a second, should my debt be wiped clean. Otherwise, as many people are seeing, the economics of medicine are driving people to become dermatologists, surgeons, anesthesiologists, etc. just so they can pay their bills and live a decent lifestyle. Essentially, I will have a second mortgage to pay for 30 years with my current debt load. Any time someone says doctors are overpaid I want to vomit.

Or, I could start a highly successful technology blog and abdicate the field of medicine altogether. I'm looking more and more into a hospitalist position with a salary that would allow me to have job security, free time, and nearly complete freedom from the insurance/reimbursement crap festival. I'll work 12 hours days five days a week if it means a stable salary in the 120's and no billing messes.

I'm not looking for a fat cat lifestyle or a fancy collection of houses and cars, all I want is my debt gone so I can do what I love to do (eventually practice medicine) without the economic hassles undercutting the attention and diligence I would give to my patients. Some of us still LIKE the idea of American medicine, it just seems like nothing is helping us keep optimistic.

Nov 18, 2008, 09:17 PM
My mom decided to quit working as a pediatrician in a clinic many years ago because it was just too much to deal with, especially the odd hours, working on holidays, along with the major headaches dealing with paper work, etc especially with the 3 young kids she had at the time. I remember her working in primary care and it was hard on our family because of all of the demands it requires. Luckily, living in Washington D.C. gave her an alternative to being a primary care physician while still remaining in medicine because of the many government opportunities. Both my parents (my dad is also a physician) have since worked for the FDA in careers dealing with what they love but without the stress of running a primary care practice.

Nov 18, 2008, 09:26 PM
As someone majoring in medical records and billing, I can definitely relate to the physicians frustrations and it's quite surprising how much medical billing clerks have to learn!

Insurance companies are the worst, this company wants it done this way, this one wants it that way, this one requires this much information, this one that much, it really needs to be more standardized. If HIPAA is meant to standardize everything then I would really hate to see what the system was like before it came around.

Nov 18, 2008, 09:43 PM
If you don't like your job, then quit.

Simple as that.

I certainly don't want someone blase about my health and well being.

With up to 20 or more years invested in training, and more in practice, quitting isn't an easy proposition. What skill sets does the doctor have other than those of being a doctor? What do you put on the resume?

Pretty much, if you are a doctor, that is what you will be barring a catastrophe.


Nov 18, 2008, 10:19 PM
What ever happened to going to the doc, getting a checkup, paying wish cash and walking out?

Nov 23, 2008, 03:51 PM
Doctors also have to contend with possible lawsuits, so some tend to be extra careful and do tests that really aren't necessary, according to this article (http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2008/11/18/doctors_fear_of_lawsuits_tied_to_added_costs_of_14b/) in the Boston Globe.

Me, I've been having some weird abdominal pains for the past four months, and I'm still trying to get them to do some more tests to help figure it out. It's really annoying, but they're so busy. My Primary doc rushes through my appointments, and my GI specialist takes weeks to get an appointment.

And I was going through some bills, and my insurance costs have doubled since 2001. And now they're upping the specialist visit co-pays at work next year too. Sucks for everyone all around.