Forty-five percent of cardiologists who responded to a nationwide survey of physicians said they would leave the practice of medicine in the next decade. That was 11 percentage points higher than physicians as a whole.
The online survey, part of a series of polls conducted by the staffing firm Jackson Healthcare to gauge physicians’ attitudes about work-related issues, queried doctors on topics as varied as retirement plans and practice trends.
Sixteen percent of respondents said they planned to switch to a part-time practice, retire or otherwise leave medicine in 2012. Economic issues and healthcare reform topped the list for reasons to retire in 2012. In the next decade, a total of 34 percent of physicians planned to leave medicine, with specialists leading the exodus.
More than half—57 percent—of oncologists and hematologists planned to retire by 2022. About half of the responding otolaryngologists and general surgeons planned an exit in the next decade, and 45 percent of cardiologists and 42 percent of urologists set a target of 2022 or earlier for retirement.
Atlanta-based Jackson Healthcare’s cardiologist figure is in line with findings from a survey by the American College of Cardiology published in 2009 that looked at possible retirement trends. That analysis found 40 percent of cardiologists were 55 years or older (J Am Coll Cardiol 2009;54:1195-1208). The percentage of pediatric cardiologists, interventional cardiologists and electrophysiologists who were 55 or older at that time was 30 percent, 20 percent and 13 percent, respectively.
In two other surveys, Jackson Healthcare asked physicians about Medicare and Medicaid enrollment patterns and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). In those surveys:
- 82 percent of respondents were accepting new patients, but only 75 percent and 64 percent were accepting new Medicare and Medicaid patients, respectively;
- Cardiologists tied with oncologists and hematologists as the most likely to take on new Medicare patients, with 96 percent in each specialty responding they would add Medicare patients to their practice;
- 39 percent of cardiologists indicated they will limit the number of Medicaid patients they take because of low reimbursement; and
- 70 percent of respondents said the PPACA would not put a lid on rising healthcare costs.
A total of 2,218 physicians representing a variety of medical and surgical specialties responded to the practice trends survey that included retirement questions; 2,232 to the Medicare and Medicaid poll, and 2,694 to the healthcare reform survey. The polls were conducted between April and June.