Why more physicians are leaving medicine: 4 takeaways

Despite spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on medical school, physicians are increasingly forgoing medical practice in favor of other health-related ventures, claiming they can do more to improve care delivery worldwide as entrepreneurs, The Boston Globe reports.

Here are four things to know:

1. Of the 131 chief executives running publicly traded companies in Massachusetts, 26 CEOs (20 percent) have medical degrees, according to Radford, a subsidiary of professional services firm Aon. However, The Boston Globe notes Radford's survey did not include the more than 400 privately held companies in Massachusetts, which are often more receptive to hiring younger physicians with little real-world business or leadership experience.

2. The publication notes several factors fueling the trend, including physicians' growing frustration with the medical system, burnout and financial pressures. A recent study published in the journal BMJ found 4 in 10 medical school students said they or someone they knew has considered quitting school due to financial strain. That disillusionment has caused more physicians to consider alternative career options outside of the medical field. A Physicians Foundation survey cited by The Boston Globe found the number of physicians who said they planned to pursue nonclinical healthcare jobs rose from 11 percent in 2012 to 16.6 percent in 2016.

3. Samuel Levy, MD, president and co-founder of Allurion Technologies, told The Boston Globe the limits placed on him as a physician ultimately drove him to pursue his idea for a startup.

"I realized that as a practicing physician or surgeon, the absolute impact I could have was constrained by what I could do with my two hands in 24 hours," Dr. Levy said. Now, the devices his company has created to aid in the obesity epidemic have allowed him to help "patients halfway around the world while I am sleeping."

4. David Berry, MD, PhD, told the publication he consulted 33 mentors before deciding to quit medicine and join Flagship Pioneering, a Cambridge, Mass.-based venture capital firm. He said "exactly zero people" told him he should enter the startup world when he was deciding his career path. Now, he holds over 200 patents and has co-founded and helped build more than 20 life sciences companies. Dr. Berry told The Boston Globe he credits medical school for teaching him how to analyze and solve scientific issues.

"It's a way of thinking that allows you to take a life sciences problem — or even not a life sciences problem — and, no pun intended, start dissecting," he said.

To access the full report, click here.

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