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    Compensation issues push PCPs to move from practices

    Money isn’t everything, but 35% of primary care physicians (PCPs) say it is the most important factor in changing practices.

    The 2011 compensation survey conducted by physician recruiting group The Medicus Firm also showed that physician compensation generally stayed the same as last year. PCPs did not see the kind of across-the-board gains in income reported in 2010, when internists’ incomes rose by 14%.

    Compensation was 50% more important to PCPs in evaluating a professional move than location or quality of practice, the most significant factors for residents and fellows.

    “While many physicians don’t choose medicine for the money initially, they do want to be compensated fairly, considering the additional years of school and training invested. Physicians may be more susceptible to dissatisfaction if they do not feel they are paid what the market bears for their services,” according to Jim Stone, president and chief executive officer of Medicus.

    Six percent of physicians said they were unhappy enough about compensation to consider leaving medicine entirely, according to the Medicus survey.

    “The physician shortage has increased about 1% annually and is now 7% to 8% nationally” and expected to rise to 20% by 2025, says Richard Cooper, MD, professor at the Perleman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and senior author of a study on the physician shortage.

    The shortage of PCPs is more acute, and projected to get worse as healthcare reform increases access to care. The American Association of Medical Colleges projects that the country will face a shortage of 46,000 PCPs by 2025.

    Lori Heim, MD, board chairwoman of the American Academy of Family Physicians, recommends that Congress address the need to increase the number of PCPs by reducing the payment differential between primary care and specialists and investing in primary care medical education.

    Go back to the current issue of eConsult.

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