It used to be a given that the vast majority of students in the late stages of medical school would go on to clinical practice after graduation and residency. The majority of these would open private practices or join a group practice to get their feet wet. That’s not the way things are anymore. Modern physician jobs are as varied as the doctors themselves, and the young kids now in medical school have a lot more options to choose from.
We often hear that the biggest influence on modern physician jobs is the ongoing doctor shortage. While that may or may not be true, other things are in play. There are at least five factors above and beyond the physician shortage that are affecting doctors and the jobs they take. All five are explained below.
1. The Rise of Locum Tenens
Twenty years ago, ‘locum tenens‘ was considered a dirty word in the medical profession. Locum physicians were viewed as second rate doctors confined to locum work because they were somehow unable to establish a private practice or incapable of working well with others in a permanent employment situation. None of that was true, but it was the prevailing attitude.
Today, as many as 94% of America’s healthcare facilities utilize locum tenens at least once per year. A sizeable percentage of them make use of locums year-round. Locum tenens physicians are now just as accepted on the hospital floor as tenured hospitalists and private practice physicians making their rounds.
2. More Nonclinical Positions
Another game-changing factor is a steady increase in the availability of nonclinical positions. Medical Economics contributor Ryan Gamlin wrote an excellent piece in February 2016 detailing the exodus of young doctors to nonclinical work immediately out of medical school. According to his data, some 100,000 doctors in medical school that year had no intention of making clinical work a major part of their careers. Some of them were planning to never treat a single patient at all.
3. Concierge Medicine
Modern physician jobs are also being heavily influenced by concierge medicine. This influence is less about where doctors work and more about how they practice. Concierge medicine is based on annual fees rather than charging by the visit, and most people who take advantage of it pay the annual fee out of pocket. This guarantees doctors get paid what they are worth while at the same time allowing them to actually spend time with patients free from the constraints of insurance company demands.
4. The Gig Economy
As you probably know by now, the gig economy has reached medicine. There are now a small number of companies that offer on-demand primary care through mobile apps. Patients in major metropolitan areas – and even some mid-sized towns, too – can call for a doctor at any point during regular business hours. The doctor will make a house or office visit that same day.
5. Video and internet Technology
Finally, video and internet technology are definitely changing the way doctors see their patients. Telemedicine is one example. A good telemedicine platform allows doctors to see more patients in a single day without having to actually meet them in the office. They can speak with them through videoconferencing instead. One of the most important benefits of telemedicine is that it allows doctors to spend a bit more time with patients.
The physician jobs of 2018 look remarkably different as compared to the jobs of 20 and 30 years ago. That’s not necessarily a good or bad thing; it is just the evolution of medicine.