North Carolina physicians responded overwhelmingly to this survey with more per capita responses than any other state in the country. Thank you to everyone who took the time to answer the questions. The results offer a snapshot of physician perspectives and practice patterns today.
According to the research, 80 percent of physicians report being overextended or at capacity, with no time to see additional patients. This remains steady with the findings reported in the 2014 survey from the Foundation. Not surprisingly, 54 percent of physicians surveyed rate their morale as somewhat or very negative, with 49 percent saying they are either often or always feeling burnt out.
In response to these and other challenges, 48 percent of surveyed physicians plan to cut back on hours, retire, take a non-clinical job, switch to “concierge” medicine or take other steps that will further limit patient access – an increase from those who answered similarly in the 2014 survey.
In addition to challenges in morale, 62.8 percent of those surveyed are pessimistic about the future of the medical profession. About half of survey respondents would not recommend medicine as a career to their children. Close to one-third would not choose to be physicians if they had their careers to do over. This sentiment has larger implications outside of the profession itself, given that physicians manage larger clinical teams comprised of nurse practitioners, physician assistants and more who also play a pivotal role in healthcare economics.
Physicians identify regulatory / paperwork burdens and loss of clinical autonomy as their primary sources of dissatisfaction. Respondents indicate that they spend 21 percent of their time on non-clinical paper work duties, while about two-thirds (72 percent) say third-party intrusions detract from the quality of care they can provide.
“Many physicians are dissatisfied with the current state of medical practice and are starting to opt out of traditional patient care roles,” said Walker Ray, M.D., President of the Physicians Foundation and chair of its Research Committee. “By retiring, taking non-clinical roles or cutting back in various other ways, physicians are essentially voting with their feet and leaving the clinical workforce. This trend is to the detriment of patient access. It is imperative that all healthcare stakeholders recognize and begin to address these issues more proactively, to support physicians and enhance the medical practice environment. ”