Less paperwork, more time with patients keep doctors in medicine

A literature review finds that physicians value autonomy more than money in deciding whether to keep practicing.

By Victoria Stagg Elliott — Posted June 10, 2009

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Increasing compensation without addressing factors that can make the practice of medicine so arduous will not be enough to retain physicians in the profession, according to a special article in the April Jackson & Coker Industry Report (link).

"Physicians have a higher calling. It's not just about money," said Edward McEachern, vice president of marketing at Jackson & Coker, an Atlanta-based physician staffing agency.

The authors reviewed the scientific literature and found studies indicating that stress and burnout among physicians has grown significantly over the past few decades, but that higher salaries may not solve this problem.

That's because research suggests that the desire to provide high-quality care with some degree of autonomy is a leading reason that physicians stay in the profession.

Physicians also want to be perceived as being good at what they do, treat a variety of patients with whom a relationship has been built and be given opportunities to improve their skills.

Being overburdened with administrative challenges and too many patients are main factors leading physicians to change careers.

"These findings are in keeping with what our recruiters experience in dealing with hundreds of career-minded physicians on a daily basis. Although doctors seek equitable compensation for the services they render, they are motivated by other things in accepting recurrent temporary or, especially, permanent practice opportunities," said Sandra Garrett, Jackson & Coker's president.

The report is the latest move by company officers to better understand physician motivation. The company is also investigating what personality types are better fits for certain jobs and developing tools using this information to make better placements.

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