One must go through expensive and intensive training to become a doctor. Aspiring medical professionals want their hard work to pay off both financially and altruistically. Being a doctor is associated with great prestige and nobility, so why are doctors fleeing the medical field and changing careers?
The Association of American Medical Colleges predicts there will be a shortage of doctors by 2030. In 2017, the Association reported the shortage would be between 40,800 and 104,900 doctors. This year the Association projects that the shortage will be even worse: 42,600 to 121,300 doctors could be missing in a decade.
The current economy is beginning to pay people well who have expertise in STEM careers: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The economy has shifted toward information computerization and now favors people with knowledge of things such as mechanical equipment and programming languages. Craig Fowler, regional VP of the Medicus Firm sees a new trend happening. College students are less interested in medical careers and see more opportunity for healthy work-life balance in high paying STEM careers. Young people also want to move to urban locations to work. Most medical residencies are scattered across small towns. In fact, according to the Medicus Firm, many residencies are having a hard time attracting medical students in Middle America.
Another reason aspiring doctors don’t make it is because there aren’t enough residency slots for medical grads. Even after becoming an M.D., there may not be a place for the doctor to practice and get started. If an M.D. doesn’t find a residency within a reasonable period of time, they may change their major or work elsewhere in order to make a living. Of the majority who stay the course, many are leaving the profession earlier than expected.
Speaking with NBC News, one doctor gave insight into the tired state of the medical field. “After 20 years, I quit medicine and none of my colleagues were surprised. In fact, they all said they wish they could do the same,” said Dr. Amy Baxter. She felt like “an easily replaceable cog in the health care machine.”
“One night a child I was treating had a seizure and I couldn’t get the medicine to enable them to breathe because their chart wasn’t in the system yet. This kid was fixing to die and I, the doctor, couldn’t get the medicine. It was demoralizing.”
A research study by Stanford Medicine finds that 59 percent of doctors think that compliance with electronic health records (EHRs) are stifling their ability to respond effectively to patients. Dr. Baxter said that compliance to EHRs forced her to spend most of her time as a “scribe,” handicapping her from responding to patients effectively. Tied up by bureaucracy, Baxter left pediatric care and now leads a company that develops physiological products for personal pain management.
A majority of doctors believe EHRs do not strengthen their relationships with patients. About half of practitioners believe EHRs take away from their clinical effectiveness, causing them to work more hours and spend less time with patients.
Dr. Nicole Swiner told NBC News that the medical profession is “burdened more by nonmedical business or insurance professionals.” Much of medical care is centered on bureaucracy and cost - who pays for what, who gets the money, and how much. Patient-first medical care is falling by the wayside and it’s causing burnout and medical error throughout the medical field.
For more on correcting the problems with the medical system, visit DangerousMedicine.com.