Physicians Express Dissatisfaction With Careers, What About NP's?

As a nurse practitioner, I feel like I have it pretty good.  Now that I have a little experience under my belt, my work-life balance has achieved an unprecedented harmony.  I earn an excellent salary but don't take my work home with me once I leave the hospital; I have plenty of time to pursue activities and relationships outside of work.  My stress level is at an all-time low and I can genuinely say my life could not be better.  Studies indicate that physicians, however do not feel the same.

Surveys show physicians are not happy.  The Physician's Foundation, a nonprofit organization representing doctors, surveyed 630,000 physicians (every physician in the U.S. registered with the AMA).  The results of these surveys are astounding.  Physicians polled revealed a level of career satisfaction much lower than that five years ago.  Survey results in 2008 indicated that fewer than 1 out of 2 physicians would retire if they could; now 3 out of 5 physicians wish they could hang up their lab coats.  84% of physicians feel that the medical profession is in decline and 33% of doctors say they would choose a different profession if they could do it all again.  Why the pessimism?

Why are Doctors Pessimistic About the Future of Medicine?

Survey questions tapped into reasoning surrounding physician's gloomy outlook for the future of medicine.  The hassle of dealing with government organizations Medicare and Medicaid have doctors feeling down.  27% of physicians state dealing with these organizations is the least satisfying aspect of their practice; 52% of physicians have limited access of Medicare patients to their practices as a result.  40% of physicians note they are concerned with liability leading to job dissatisfaction.  Excess paperwork, uncertainty about healthcare reform and lack of work/ life balance were also cited as rationale for regretting a career in medicine. 

Is There Anything Physicians Do Like About Their Jobs?

Thankfully for physicians, they have identified some redeeming qualities of a career in medicine.  80% of doctors indicate that patient relationships are the most satisfying part of the medical career, replacing intellectual stimulation in 2008 as the most satisfying aspect of medical practice .  This appreciation for the doctor-patient relationship gives a glimmer of hope for the medical profession among the battery of negative responses to this survey.  Perhaps medical providers are beginning to get back to the basics of healthcare, the patients, rather than focusing issues like legislation and insurance companies. 

Sure Physicians Are Unhappy, What About Nurse Practitioners?

Few studies have been done to evaluate job satisfaction among NP's, however research that does exist shows nurse practitioners are overwhelmingly satisfied with their career choices.  A study of nurse practitioners in Michigan reveals an 80% satisfaction rate with the NP career.  Nurse practitioners surveyed in California were found to have high levels of job satisfaction citing flexible schedule and interpersonal relationships as features they most appreciate about their jobs.  A nationwide study by the AANP found that only 5.5% of nurse practitioners desire to leave the profession.  

It looks like nurse practitioners are on the right track.  We have managed to create a culture of autonomy while avoiding many of the pitfalls experienced by physicians. Our profession allows us the option of independence or employment creating a variety of career options to fit each individual nurse practitioner's level of experience and comfort.  Let's maintain the positive attitude towards our careers avoiding the bitterness seeping into the medical profession. 

Are you satisfied with your career as a nurse practitioner?  What do you see as the positives and negatives of our line of work?  Comment below!