Fighting the Tide Against Independent Physicians

In a recent Health Leaders article, an observation was made that more and more physicians are becoming employees of health systems. Physicians who are employees of health systems like the safety, regular hours and lack of day-to-day business responsibility. At the same time, 40% express weakening morale and 33% would encourage their children not to pursue a medical career. A large number leave their first employment after 2 years. Merritt Hawkins, a physician recruiting company, showed in a recent survey that 28 % of physicians completing their training would have chosen another career if they could do it all over again. Is this a sign of strength in the physician’s marketplace or a symptom of a serious decline in the foundation of our healthcare system?

Independent physicians are in decline across the country. The sustained 2% per year decline is expected to increase to 5% by 2013.  The image of the fiercely independent physician is changing and with it physician moral and job satisfaction. Many think that this is the cause of the current and worsening physician shortage.

One solution is to stem the tide of losing independent practicing physicians is provide physicians with the needed tools to run a business. Although physicians are professional clinicians, they are amateur businessmen. Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, the Physician’s Foundation, a well-financed non-profit group, hosts a three-day educational institute. The numbers of physicians able to attend such a conference will certainly limit its effectiveness to change things. Yet the solution is clear. Empowering physicians to retain control of their professional lives will likely be a significant factor in maintaining a sustainable health care system.

ES4P certainly agrees with the need to educate physicians on the business aspects of medicine. Consequently, ES4P provides seminars to physicians that are affordable, from both a cost and time perspective. The seminars ES4P offers are practical and essential to all physicians no matter their practice setting. Until physicians have the business knowledge, skills, and tools necessary to operate a practice, less and less people will select medicine as a profession. To be sure there are other factors as well, but they are business factors not clinical ones.

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