Standard thinking dictates that America’s doctors are unhappy with their jobs thanks to burnout, labor shortages, and unfavorable working environments. But a recently released survey shows otherwise. According to the survey, the average doctor is pretty much satisfied with his or her position. The only negative mentioned with great frequency was stagnating pay.
Obviously, this is just one survey. Other surveys have painted a very different picture. Perhaps the differences are more attributable to the way questions are asked than the actual state of medicine. Perhaps doctors truly are happy with their jobs. Maybe we can make a real dent in the doctor shortage by making a few adjustments to recruiting and pay.
What the Survey Revealed
In reporting on the survey in question, Becker’s Hospital Review indicated that more than half of the survey participants reported being “very” or “extremely” satisfied with their jobs. General satisfaction was reported despite ongoing physician shortages and reports of doctor burnout.
The survey also revealed stagnating wages for the majority of America’s doctors. Just 37% reported increased pay from 2016 to 2017. Among the biggest winners were doctors in emergency medicine. Interestingly, 25% of the survey recipients who reported taking a new job in 2016 were paid a signing bonus for doing so. The annual signing bonus was $15,000.
Pay Is Always a Factor
Reading between the lines of the survey leads to a rather interesting question. If doctors are satisfied with their jobs for the most part, would increasing their pay satisfy them even more? It is a question worthy of serious pondering. It could very well be that finding a way to increase doctor pay would at least make some sort of measurable dent in the doctor shortage.
One thing the industry knows for sure is that money talks. Just ask a locum tenens recruiter. Locum tenens agencies are super competitive in a day and age in which employers are in desperate straits to fill staffing holes. In order to compete, recruiters are offering everything from free medical malpractice insurance to fully paid travel and housing. They could do even better if employers were willing to pay more.
The Reality of Negativity
Knowing what we now know about physician satisfaction, one cannot help but wonder why there is so much negativity within the industry. There could be a lot of reasons for this. To start with, negativity is a matter of perception. Just because a doctor expresses some negativity about pay scales does not mean that he or she is dissatisfied overall.
Another factor to consider is the simple truth that negativity breeds more negativity. If we are constantly talking about physician burnout and dispassionate administrators who don’t seem to care, that’s what doctors will start believing. It will not be long before negativity permeates the entire medical field.
There’s plenty of good news to be taken from this recent survey. At the top of the list is the fact that, despite so much negativity, doctors are still satisfied with their jobs. Now the medical industry needs to build on that. Employers and recruiters alike need to find out what it is that produces satisfied doctors and keep pushing those things.
They also need to find out what it is about their jobs that doctors are unhappy with. This includes stagnating pay. Where things can be improved, it just makes sense to do so. Satisfied doctors produce positive outcomes which, in turn, make for happy patients. In the end, it is patient satisfaction that will drive the medical industry to new levels of good health and financial profitability.