Two new surveys indicate a deepening disillusionment about the practice of medicine among both current physicians and physicians-to-be. The first survey, by physician recruiter Merritt, Hawkins & Co., drew responses from 436 physicians age 50 to 65, who answered questions about their career plans in the next one to three years. Some 8% said they would retire; 20% would seek medical positions without patient-care responsibilities or would seek nonclinical positions inside or outside medicine; and 23% would reduce their workload, close their practices to new patients or work part time. About 50% of the physicians said they would not choose medicine as a career if they were starting out today.
According to the second survey, by the American Medical Association, medical malpractice insurance costs are influencing students' decisions about what to practice and where to live. Of 4,000 students surveyed, 48% indicated that concerns about liability issues were a factor in whether they choose a high-risk specialty, and nearly 40% said they were considering avoiding one of 19 states the AMA has identified as having a medical malpractice "crisis." About 86% of the students said they considered the issue of medical liability to be a crisis or a major problem. -- by Michael Romano