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Survey Reveals Which Physicians Would Choose Their Specialty Again

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Earlier this month, Medscape released its “Physician Compensation Report 2016,”, and according to Carol Peckham over at the publication’s website, the report is based on information collected from “nearly 19,200 physicians in over 26 specialties,” who “disclosed not only their compensation, but also how many hours they work per week, how many minutes they spend with each patient, the most rewarding part of their job, changes to their practice resulting from healthcare reform, and more.”

This time, we look at the three final questions the survey asked physicians: “If you had to do it all over, what would you do?”; “Would you choose medicine again?”; and “Would you still choose the same specialty?”

According to Peckham, “While the rewards of medicine still exist for the majority of respondents, the trend toward choosing to be a doctor again is steadily declining. The Medscape Physician Compensation Report survey has included this question for the past five years, and enthusiasm has waned in all three areas. In the 2011 report, 69 percent of physicians said they would choose medicine again and 61 percent would select their own specialty.”

In 2016, those percentages are down with 64 percent of physicians saying they would choose medicine again as a career and 45 percent saying they would choose the same specialty again.

“Furthermore, in 2011, half said they would choose their own current practice setting,” Peckham reports, “but this year only 25 percent would go that same route.”

Of those surveyed, 73 percent of family-medicine physicians said they would choose medicine again, while 71 percent of internists said they would also make the same career choice. According to the article, this “is exactly the same as last year, when they were first and third, respectively.”

“Of note,” Peckham adds, “these primary-care physicians were within the bottom 10 in earnings.”

Other specialties with high percentages of physicians who would make their career choice again included 70 percent of rheumatologists, 69 percent of pulmonologists and HIV and infectious-disease specialists, and 68 percent of critical-care specialists, pediatricians, and oncologists.

Plastic surgeons were dead last in saying they would choose their specialty again, at 47 percent, followed by radiologists and orthopedists at 49 percent.

As the article notes, “All three of these specialties were within the top 10 in earnings. It seems that physicians’ earnings do not reflect the appeal of their profession.”

The final question that participating physicians were asked by Medscape: “If you had to do it all over again, would you choose the same specialty?”

“Although only 53 percent of dermatologists said they would choose medicine again, if they did, about three quarters (74 percent) of those would choose their own specialty,” Peckham reports. “In second place, about two-thirds (65 percent) of orthopedists would choose their own specialty, although only about half of them would want to be physicians again. And at the bottom of the list, only 25 percent of internists and 29 percent of family physicians would want to be primary-care doctors again, but both groups were in the top two of re-choosing medicine as a career.”

As physicians who are looking for jobs, would you choose to be in medicine if you had to do it all over again? If so, would you choose the same specialty? Why or why not?

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