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New doctors are uneasy about their career choice

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ September jobs report showed that once again, the healthcare sector continues to add jobs. Despite the positive jobs outlook in the healthcare industry and the demand for physicians due to a physician shortage, some new doctors surveyed by national healthcare search and consulting firm, Merritt Hawkins, an AMN Healthcare company, said they are uneasy with their choice of profession.

Twenty-nine percent of residents said they would chose to go into another field instead of medicine (71 percent said they wouldn’t change fields), an increase from 18 percent from a 2008 survey.

Respondents to Merritt Hawkins’ 2011 Survey of Final-Year Medical Residents cited concerns such as achieving a work/life balance, dealing with payers, malpractice and the uncertainties generated by healthcare reform.

“With declining reimbursement, increasing costs, malpractice worries and the uncertainly of health reform, the medical profession is under duress today,” said James Merritt, Merritt Hawkins founder, in a statement accompanying the survey results. “It is not surprising that many newly trained doctors are concerned about what awaits them.”

Merritt Hawkins contacted 10,000 final year residents for the survey. Only 302 responses were received, a response rate of three percent.

Despite the small numbers with which Merritt Hawkins was working, the company believes the data does provide take aways.

“The survey has an error rate of about one to five percent depending on the question (the more possible responses to the question, the higher the error rate),” said Phil Miller, Merritt Hawkins’ vice president for communications. “On a question such as ‘Would you choose medicine again?’ (which has a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response), the error rate is pretty low, so I think you can draw some conclusions from the survey."

“Also,” he added, “the fact residents report getting swamped with recruiting solicitations and some of the other findings are consistent with our experience and I think would be echoed by anyone in the recruiting field.”

[See also: Recruitment demand high for primary care doctors.]

The survey found that medical residents are bombarded by recruiters. Seventy-eight percent of respondents said they had been contacted by recruiters from hospitals, medical groups and other organizations more than 50 times during their residency training. Forty-seven percent said they had been contacted 100 times or more.

Other survey findings include:

• 32 percent said they would prefer to be employed by a hospital; one percent said they would prefer a solo practice
• 56 percent said they did not receive any formal instruction on medical business issues during medical training
• 48 percent said they are not prepared to handle the business side of medicine
• 94 percent said they would prefer to work in communities of 50,000 people or more

Follow HFN associate editor Stephanie Bouchard on Twitter @SBouchardHFN.