Why the future of medicine is not looking too good

Question: What is the most important thing concerning residents finishing training and looking for a practice in 2011?

a. Feeling of insufficient medical knowledge
b. Health system reform
c. Educational debt
d. Availability of free time
e. Dealing with patients

If you said “d. Availability of free time,” you are either very perceptive and in tune with today’s young doctors or you read an article about this in American Medical News. According to survey performed by Merritt & Hawkins, a physician recruiting company, 48% of newly graduating residents are most concerned about finding a practice which will allow them adequate free time. This is up from 33% in 2008. Only 7% chose availability of free time as “least concerning.”

Insufficient medical knowledge and dealing with patients were concerns of 7% and 2% of the residents respectively. To put some perspective on that, I worry about my fund of knowledge and dealing with patients every day.

Other interesting survey findings are that almost no one wants to practice in a small town and certain “must haves” include geographic location [sic], adequate call coverage/personal time, lifestyle and good financial package. Sixth on the list of “must haves” was good medical facilities/equipment.

American Medical News cites an Association of American Medical Colleges report showing that 28% of medical school graduates owe more than $200,000 in student loans. Despite all the concern about educational debt, only 12% considered loan forgiveness important, a finding with implications for those dreamers who think that loan forgiveness will entice doctors to practice in unglamorous locations.

Does all this bother anyone else? I wonder what people expected? Did they not know that being a doctor involves commitment and self-sacrifice? Apparently not for at least one, as a revealing blogger wrote recently.

The future of medicine is not looking too good to me right now.

“Skeptical Scalpel” is a surgeon blogs at his self-titled site, Skeptical Scalpel.

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