Why physicians are leaving medicine

More physicians are regretting choosing to pursue medicine, according to a 2023 survey from the Physicians Foundation, and Vladimir Sinkov, MD, joined Becker's to discuss why this is. 

From loss of autonomy to declining reimbursements, Dr. Sinkov, the founder and CEO of Las Vegas-based Sinkov Spine Center, discussed the burdens physicians are currently facing. 

Question: Only 40% of physicians would recommend a career in medicine. What reforms are needed to abate this?

Dr. Vladimir Sinkov: The main reason the physicians are increasingly dissatisfied with their career in medicine is the feeling of lack of control over their work and ability to take care of their patients. Due to declining reimbursements and increasing regulatory and non-clinical burdens, more and more physicians decide to become employees of large organizations (hospitals, insurance company affiliates like Optum or Kaiser or mega-groups controlled by venture capital firms). Once they become employees, a significant amount of clinical and career autonomy is lost. The initial increases in salary eventually become diluted by ever-increasing "production" requirements, and physicians then feel trapped in a job they do not like but can no longer leave (don't forget the noncompete clause).  

Physicians continue practicing medicine with the constant concern for being named in a frivolous medical malpractice lawsuit. Such lawsuits take a significant toll on physicians in terms of their finances, time away from clinical practice and life, and stress. Physicians also feel that their concerns are not being heard by elected officials — every law that is attempted to improve their situation is being diluted and changed by the hospital and insurance companies lobbyists.  Physicians feel that there is an increased lack of appreciation by their patients and the public in general for the sacrifices that they made and continue to make to become a physician and continue staying in practice.   

The reforms that could potentially abate this should include medical malpractice reforms, increase of reimbursements for medical services back to reasonable levels dictated by current market forces, and reforms that would decrease regulatory burdens so that physicians can regain their independence in clinical practice.

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