Doctor Alienation

Photo by peepo/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by peepo/iStock / Getty Images

In a recent article, Dr. Melinda Hakim discusses the alienation of American physicians in our current landscape. The system is causing physicians to burnout, face bankruptcy, retire early, or simply choose not to become a doctor or surgeon in the first place. Many of our best and brightest minds from Ivy League schools are simply choosing a different career path. In this article, we will take a look at some of the factors causing these issues, and offer some solutions.

A Shrinking Talent Pool

There is no denying that the talent pool of future physicians is shrinking. Many undergraduate students are looking at the healthcare industry and picking a different career path because they don’t like what they see.

“Of course, we cannot deny that we need to focus on curtailing health care costs,” Dr. Hakim explains in the article. “But we absolutely cannot cut health care at the expense of alienating physicians. Our talent pool is rapidly shrinking.”

Factors that Alienate (Potential) Physicians

Dr. Hakim outlines a few reasons why students who might be interested in pursuing a career in medicine forego medical school for another profession:

  1. Running a successful private practice is becoming more and more difficult due to increased overhead and decreasing reimbursements.

  2. Paperwork takes up more of a doctor’s time than actually caring for patients.

  3. Student loan debt from medical school averages out at roughly $183,000.

  4. When you account for actual hours worked per week, many young doctors earn barely more than minimum wage.

Solving These Issues

So how do we solve these issues and encourage more people to pursue a career in medicine? Here are a few solutions:

  • Compensation is Key. Many young physicians and surgeons work 100+ hours per week. We need to compensate these physicians for their time, as well as their incredible skills and knowledge.

  • Encourage Autonomy. There is a lot of red tape and burdensome regulation in the healthcare industry. Coding requirements, EHR mandates, government reporting regulations, and the like can lead to burnout and prevent physicians from caring for patients.

We need to put these tips into action and convince the next generation of potential physicians that pursuing a career in medicine is worthwhile. If you have other suggestions, email them to