What Physicians Want: Big City, Bigger Paycheck, Fewer Hassles

Annual Physician Survey Reveals Practice Preferences

Physicians were generally dissatisfied with their incomes in 2012, and blame declining reimbursements and administrative hassles as major factors in their stagnant compensation, according to a recent survey by The Medicus Firm physician search.

The annual survey of over 2,500 doctors, entitled 2013 Physician Practice Preference and Relocation Survey revealed several workforce trends and practice preferences.

Nearly 60 percent of physicians prefer metropolitan or suburban locations, while only 6.1 percent are open to a smaller town with fewer than 25,000 residents.

Physicians also expressed an affinity for the Eastern region of the country, with the Southeast (20.3 percent) barely edging out the Northeast (17.5 percent) as the most preferred region.

More than half (54 percent) of new physicians (those in training at the time of the survey) indicated a preference for employment by a hospital (28.1 percent) or academic center (25.9 percent).

Networking with colleagues was the favorite way to identify new practice opportunities (34.3 percent), followed by online physician job boards (28.3 percent) and physician recruiting firms (27.2 percent). Social media, mobile apps, and journal advertisements comprised the remaining nine percent of job search activities.

Doctors See Limited Income Growth and Potential

Compensation seemed to be a sore subject for many physicians. When asked what they feel limits their income the most, physicians selected “declining reimbursements” from a list of several factors. However, many physicians wrote in answers to this question rather than choosing one from the list provided.

The most common reasons submitted as to what limits physician pay were “hospital employment” and “EMR”. Physicians expressed frustration with the limits of hospital contracts and pay structures, as well as the time spent learning and using electronic medical records, which they feel slows them down and reduces productive face-time with patients.

Many physicians reported flat or declining income, but a few specialties experienced some income growth, such as hospitalists, emergency medicine, ob/gyn, and general surgery.

Top Practice Concerns: Money, Balance, Burn-out

When asked to select their top two concerns about their practice and careers for 2013, the most common responses were:

  • Compensation / Reimbursements: 53%
  • Work/Life Balance: 47.3%
  • Work-related Burn-out and Stress: 20.8%
  • Impact of Health Reform: 17.6%
  • Lack of autonomy or control in my practice: 11.7%

Only 8.3 percent of respondents indicated that one of their top concerns is “finding a new practice opportunity,” and “physician recruiting” came in dead last at 1.4% selecting it as a primary concern in 2013.

“While hospital employers can’t change their location, the weather, or the town population or amenities, they can offer other creative perks and solutions tailored to the physician’s lifestyle, like flexible schedules, and a pleasant work environment where physicians are included in administrative decisions and allowed some of the managerial influence they had when they owned private practices,” said Stone, who also serves as the newly-elected president of the National Association of Physician Recruiters (NAPR).

Physicians’ Grade Health Reform (ACA):

Physicians were asked to grade the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 5 areas, including one overall grade. The physicians overwhelmingly gave the health reform law a failing grade. Below are the grades given in each category, by percentage of respondents:

Below are the summary results regarding physicians’ grades for the ACA health reform law, with the percentages of physician respondents who gave each grade for each characteristic of the ACA:

Decreasing Health Care Costs:

  • A range – 5.2%
  • B range – 15.8%
  • C range – 24.9%
  • D range – 16.1%
  • F – 38.0%

Improving Quality of Health Care:

  • A – 6.2%
  • B – 17.3%
  • C – 25.9%
  • D – 19.4%
  • F – 31.4%

Increasing Access to Health Care:

  • A – 11.8%
  • B – 24.5%
  • C – 24.5%
  • D – 15.5%
  • F – 23.6%

Improving Efficiency of Health Care System:

  • A – 5.6%
  • B – 14.0%
  • C – 25.9%
  • D – 19.4%
  • F – 35.4%

Overall Grade for the ACA Health Reform Law:

  • A – 6.3%
  • B – 17.1%
  • C – 25.8%
  • D – 20.6%
  • F – 30.2%

Click here for full compensation survey report

For more information, media inquiries, please contact Andrea Santiago, Director of Communications at (404) 990-3614, asantiago@themedicusfirm.com.