Is it Time to Hang Up Your Stethoscope? 

Only you can answer that question for you, but I’m usually asked the question in the context of practice lifestyle – where it is today.

Unfortunately, practice lifestyle is diminishing at an alarming rate. I first re-posted this Washington Post article on my LinkedIn third_Evolution group page, Stanford’s anti-Burnout Plan – which is not about anti-burnout, but rather about how to work physicians longer and harder. Please read it and let me know what you think.

Next, I was speaking with a physician a few days ago who told me his health system employer now refers to physicians as, get this, “Associates.” And, just a few minutes ago another physician was telling me that her employer has told her she can do all her administrative work during her lunch hour. She’s an hourly employee and is not compensation for lunch hour.

Can it get worse? I have more horror stories, the ER physician who called me to say he was fired because his medical condition required him to periodically sit. It wasn’t that he was prone to collapsing or was in some way unsteady or couldn't work his full shift, simply, he needed to have some time off his feet. His group feared he might not continue to produce at the desired level, so he was terminated.

Physicians are being placed on a never-ending treadmill. But, there are alternatives. There are alternatives that pay better, that have more respect for you as a professional and have more respect for you as a human being. As someone quipped a few days ago, “I sometimes think I was treated better as a resident,” and thy have been in practice for 25 years.

If you are thinking about leaving, if you think you’re not being treated well, if you think life could be better, the answer to all those are, if you “think” it then it’s probably real.

Nonclinical executive careers, the type physicians can land, can place you in the $175K to $475k range, and that may not include perks, bonuses and annual performance increases. Even the highest earning physicians are seeing their salaries flatten. The only way to make more is to produce more, and production has its limits.

The choice is yours, but if you’re waiting for that watershed moment when the clock is turned back and practice life improves… it will be a long wait.