New Doctors - Hopes and Fears

Physician's Money Digest, March31 2004, Volume 11, Issue 6

According to a recent survey, resident physicians are generally happy with their career section and expect to make large incomes, but still have serious concerns about the business of their profession. Findings from the biennial study of 325 final-year US medical residents from Merritt, Hawkins & Associates (www.merritthawkins.com), a national physician recruitment firm, include:

• Compensation - 97% of primary care residents expect to earn more than $100,000 in their first year of professional practice; 82% of specialist residents expect to earn $150,000+. Residents earn about $35,000 per year, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. Nearly 60% of residents said their preferred method of compensation is annual salary with a production bonus; only 20% wanted salary alone.

• Business - Nearly 50% of residents said they were "unprepared" for the business side of a medical career. About 45% said they have insufficient practice management knowledge. Nearly 55% said they received "no formal training" in medical employment issues.

• Concerns - About 62% of residents said their greatest concern about entering practice was malpractice issues, 60% said it was dealing with managed care, and 51% said it was the availability of free time. Despite these concerns, more than 75% of residents said that if they where to begin their education again, they would still select medicine over another field.

• Settings - Nearly 45% of the residents said they want to work in a group practice setting (ie, 13% multi-specialty, 30% single-specialty). A partnership situation was the choice of 2 of 5 residents and fewer than 5% wanted to practice medicine solo. Almost 80% of residents said that geographic location/lifestyle was the most important consideration in selecting a practice opportunity.