Surveys Reveal What Drives Young Doctors in Their Practice of Medicine

Analysis of results from a national survey of young physicians

From 1986 to 1997, researchers at Georgetown University School of Medicine conducted three national surveys of young allopathic physicians and a smaller national survey of young osteopathic physicians, over a 10-year period.

The surveys, conducted in 1987, 1991 and 1997, were designed to provide a better understanding of how young physicians were establishing their careers and providing medical care in the face of growing competition, managed care and other significant changes in the medical marketplace.

Key Findings

  • The surveys revealed that:

    • Minority physicians tend to treat a high proportion of patients of their own race or ethnicity, and women and minority physicians are much more likely to serve minority, poor and Medicaid populations.
    • Practicing under managed care did not have a uniform impact on physician satisfaction, although markets with higher penetration by health maintenance organizations (HMOs) did show higher levels of dissatisfaction.
    • Relatively few physicians reported facing financial incentives to reduce services to patients, but the incentives that do exist may have adverse impacts on the quality of care.
    • Education debt for graduating physicians has risen over time, but few physicians report that debt levels affected their decisions about specialization.

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