Survey: Radiologists 50 and older eager for work changes

By Jim Vincoli, contributing writer

November 19, 2007 -- What do physicians 50 to 65 years old -- including radiologists in this age group -- plan to do in the next few years?

The answer to this question is important for those who monitor or are concerned by physician supply issues. Over one-third of physicians fall into the 50 to 65 age cohort. Should these doctors -- who often represent the "workhorses" of the medical staff -- decide to turn in their lab coats, patient access to physicians would take a serious hit.

A recent survey from Irving, TX-based Merritt, Hawkins & Associates indicates that an exodus of veteran physicians could be imminent. The firm asked some 1,200 physicians between the ages of 50 and 65 what they plan to do professionally over the next one to three years. About half said they plan to opt out of patient care, work fewer hours, and/or reduce the number of patients they see.

Forty-two radiologists completed the survey, and they seem even more anxious than other physicians surveyed to make a change in their practices, as the numbers below suggest:

 Question: In the next one to three years, do you plan to ...

 Answer All Radiologists
  Retire 14% 19%
  Seek a medical job in a nonclinical setting 7% 3%
  Seek a job or business in a nonmedical field 3% 3%
  Work as locum tenens 4% 16%
  Work part-time (20 hours per week or less) 12% 22%
  Close your practice to new patients or significantly reduce your workload 8% 3%
  Continue as you are 51% 28%
  Other 7% 6%
Source: Merritt, Hawkins & Associates 2007 Survey of Physicians 50 to 65 Years Old (Multiple responses given to this question.)

While 51% of all physicians surveyed said they plan to continue practicing as they are for the next one to three years, only 28% of radiologists plan to do so. Radiologists appear more interested in working locums and/or working part-time than do all physicians surveyed. Thanks in part to teleradiology, the locums or part-time option is more feasible for radiologists than for many other types of physicians.

The survey also suggests that radiologists in the 50- to 65-year-old group may not be as satisfied with the practice of medicine as others types of doctors. Of all the physicians surveyed, 10% of them said they are very satisfied with the practice of medicine, compared to only 6% of radiologists.

Radiologists surveyed also were somewhat less likely to recommend medicine as a career than other physicians: 43% of all physicians said they would recommend medicine as a career to young people, compared to 37% of radiologists.

By Jim Vincoli contributing writer
November 19, 2007

Jim Vincoli is vice president of hospital-based marketing for Merritt, Hawkins & Associates. He can be reached at Readers who would like a copy of the survey results e-mailed to them are welcome to contact him by e-mail.

Half of older physicians plan to cut back on clinical practice, October 31, 2007

Radiologists still high on recruiters' wish lists, August 14, 2007

RT wages growing more slowly, ASRT finds, July 26, 2007

Mammography pays well despite reputation, SalaryScan survey says, May 10, 2007

Radiologists in growing demand as locum tenens, November 15, 2005

Copyright © 2007


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