Survey: Why physicians shy away from government practice

Only about one-third of physicians (36 percent) would seriously consider a career change to a government-employed practice setting, such as the VA, military or corrections, according to a survey from The Medicus Firm.

Almost as many respondents (29 percent) said they would definitely not consider it, and the remaining third were neutral or unsure, according to the report.

Respondents cited the following as top reasons hindering them from government employment. The firm collected responses from 429 participants.

  • 78 percent of respondents said government-employed compensation was not competitive enough
  • 58.5 percent cited the lack of autonomy in government-employed settings.
  • 56.1 percent said the quality of patient care in government-employed settings would deter them.
  • 47.6 percent cited the work environment as a possible deterrent.
  • 41.5 percent had staffing concerns
  • 32.9 percent felt the benefits were not competitive
  • 28 percent reported issues with applying to government jobs and getting feedback during the hiring process in the comments section of the survey
  • Respondents were least concerned about work-life balance, patient mix, relocation and patient volume.

If respondents did go into government practice, most would prefer VA jobs (61.8 percent) before military jobs (33.1 percent) or corrections and other government jobs (16 percent), according to the report.

"Unfortunately, many physicians view any type of employment as a 'necessary evil' of today's healthcare environment, as the industry has grown decreasingly conducive for private practice, with overhead costs skyrocketing and reimbursements declining," Jim Stone, president of The Medicus Firm, said in the report. "Many tell us that, in a perfect world, they'd rather own their own practice, yet they find today's healthcare market and economy prohibitive, especially if they want to have any semblance of work-life balance."


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