Surgeons Report Growing Dissatisfaction With "Business" of Medicine

OUT: managed care; frivolous liability lawsuits; paperwork and administrative hassles. IN: fair reimbursement, liability reform, respect and quality of life for surgeons. As the American College of Surgeons meets in New Orleans this week, a recent physician survey indicates these issues are on the minds of today’s general surgeons.

Among approximately 240 general surgeons responding to a national online physician survey conducted by recruiting firm in summer 2007, only 2% said they were not frustrated about practicing medicine in today’s healthcare marketplace. (This compares to 4% of respondents who said they were not frustrated in the 2006 general surgeon survey.) Remaining respondents identified with a list of possible frustrations as follows:

— Reimbursement issues – 35%
— Medical liability issues – 23%
— Administrative and business agendas interfere with clinical decisions – 16%
— Lifestyle issues: Too much time at work – 13%
— Federal regulations, policies, procedures – 8%

“We survey physicians two to three times a year and they seem to express a slightly higher level of frustration with medical practice each time,” Vice President Will Drescher said. “Most of them choose medicine for altruistic reasons and many are disappointed to find that the 10 years and tens of thousands of dollars they invested in their medical educations doesn’t produce greater respect and rewards.”

Among more than 200 general surgeon answers to the question, “If you could change one thing about the practice of medicine, what would you change?” were comments like the following:

— “People (government, patients, society) would love and appreciate
their doctors and health care providers again, such that health care would
be seen as a privilege and not a right, and that we could feel like valued
members of society again, rather than criminals whose every move must be
under surveillance.”

— “Consolidate the insurance industry with a uniform set of rules for
reimbursement. Realistic malpractice risks.”

— “Eliminate third-party interference with the practice of medicine.”

Career Choices Compared

Regardless of their frustration, roughly two-thirds of responding general surgeons (65%) said they would choose medicine as a career path if they had it to do over again. This compares with 69% of 2006 physician survey respondents and with physicians from other specialties as follows:

— 59% of obstetricians/gynecologists
— 65% of orthopedic surgeons and radiologists
— 69% of anesthesiologists
— 75% of pediatricians
— 76% of internists
— 77% of cardiologists

More than a third (36%) of general surgeon respondents said they planned to change jobs within the next year and, including those, roughly half (51%) said they planned to change jobs within 2 years. Thirty-eight percent of respondents cited ‘higher compensation’ as the top reason for making a job change, while 25% cited ‘better work environment.’ However, 37% said they had no plans to change jobs in the foreseeable future. (To see complete surgeon survey results, click here:

Eighty-two percent of responding general surgeons were male, 81% were board-certified, and 78% were employed full-time. Respondents had practiced surgery for an average of 16 years. Only about a third (34%) of respondents said they had worked as a locum tenens provider, but another 61% said they might consider it.

Founded in 1995, is a full-service physician/CRNA recruiting firm specializing in anesthesiology jobs, cardiology jobs, psychiatry jobs, radiology jobs, surgery jobs and CRNA jobs with U.S. hospitals, medical groups and community health centers. is part of the Jackson Healthcare Solutions family of companies. To learn more, visit
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