Doctors say they're busy but underpaid

Back in the heyday of managed care, primary care physicians were poised to occupy the central role in health care delivery. Over the last half-decade, that has changed. A survey by Merritt, Hawkins, & Associates, a search-and-consulting company, suggests that physicians consider themselves to be busy but poorly paid, although maybe everyone who collects a paycheck thinks that.

The majority of physicians surveyed indicated that they are busy. When asked to describe their current practice, 29 percent said that they are too busy, while 57 percent indicated they are "as busy as they want to be."

Comparing net practice income with the effort expended, only 10.5 percent characterized the income as excellent. About 36 percent indicated the income is appropriate for their level of effort, and 56 percent indicated that their income is disappointing.

How would you describe net income from your practice, given your level of effort and time?

Income trends by specialty

Percentage of physicians in specialty with incomes in the specified range

Source: Merritt, Hawkins, & Associates. 2006 Survey of primary care physicians.

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