A Snapshot in Time: Gauging Physician Attitudes

122569320The parent company of LocumTenens.com, Jackson Healthcare, conducted physician research over the past several years across many specialties, trying to gauge their attitudes on everything from healthcare reform, to practice autonomy, to how much they are getting paid for the life-saving work they do.

Our research, like that of other organizations, finds that doctors today are feeling less-than-enthusiastic about practicing in the current, and what they perceive the future, healthcare environment to be. But are physicians alone in this feeling of pessimism? No, according to recent Gallup research that reported only 30 percent of American workers were engaged in their work, an all-time engagement low for the firm which has been conducting this research since 2000.  Physicians had the highest engagement level of all professional groups at 34 percent, but 57 percent of them were not engaged and 9 percent were actively disengaged.

As a firm that specializes in the placement of locum tenens physicians, we pay careful attention to the drivers of satisfaction we can control: pay, clinical fit, housing, customer service experience. The beauty of this annual research is that we can also explore the perceptions and attitudes of full-time locum tenens physicians about the things outside of our control — how they feel about the current state of healthcare.

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From the write-in comments, it’s clear that the locum tenens physician is fiercely independent and wants to focus only on the patient, not all the bureaucratic red tape that comes along with the practice of medicine today.

Locum tenens physicians are more satisfied (55 percent) than dissatisfied (45 percent) with the practice of medicine. Could this be because overall, they call the shots in their career and aren’t as mired in the red tape that most physicians face daily? Write-in comments show that locum tenens physicians enjoy the feeling of control they have over their career choices.

“I enjoy the freedom to practice where I want, and when I want.”

Although locum tenens physicians are more satisfied, another telling statistic from our research reflects their pessimism on the current state of medicine. Only 40 percent of locum tenens physicians would encourage someone they know to enter medicine, while 59 percent would discourage them. Why such a gloomy outlook?

Write-in comments show that it is regulation, and less autonomy, that makes them fear for the future of medicine. They see an environment where patient decisions are based on regulated standards of care, not their expert opinion on what a patient needs after examining that patient. They see a future where they have less time to do what they love best—treat patients.

“I love to practice medicine and see patients. However, I realistically only spend about 10 to 20 percent of my time seeing patients. The rest is administrative fighting with EMRs, insurance companies, and all of the other administrative functions forced on me.”

Want to read all the research? Check out the eBook here.

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Shane Jackson
Shane Jackson is president and COO of LocumTenens.com.

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