Morale rises, but more physicians feel overextended

An increasing number of physicians reported they are overextended or at full capacity, according to results of a national survey conducted this year of more than 20,000 physicians.

Compared with 75% in 2012, 81% of physicians surveyed said they felt overextended or at full capacity, and only 19% said they have time to see more patients in the poll conducted for The Physicians Foundation by Merritt Hawkins.

While only 44% describe their morale and current state of the medical profession as “positive,” that number is up from 32% in 2012. Only 8.8% of respondents said their morale was “very positive,” 35.6% reported “somewhat positive,” 37.1% replied it was “somewhat negative” and 18.5% said it was “very negative.”

Thirty-five percent of respondents indicated they were independent practice owners, down from 49% in 2012 and 62% in 2008. Of those, 30.5% reported working in a hospital, and 22.4% were part of a medical group.

The number of physicians who would recommend the profession to a family member or young person rose from 42.1% in 2012 to 49.8%.

When asked if they had to choose a career again, 71.3% reported they still find practicing medicine rewarding, and 28.7% said the negatives outweigh the positives. About 78% of respondents rated patient relationships as the most positive aspect to their career, followed by intellectual stimulation (65.3%).

Just more than 56% said they would continue working as they currently do for the next 3 years, 18.2% said they would reduce their hours. More than 9% of respondents planned to retire within the next 3 years, and 10.4% said they would seek nonclinical work in a health care setting.

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