The Physicians Foundation’s Sixth Biennial Survey

RPT_CoverPDFThe Physicians Foundation, a nonprofit organization that seeks to advance the work of practicing physicians and helps them facilitate the delivery of health care to patients, has released the findings of its 2018 survey of US physicians, revealing the impact of several factors driving physicians to reassess their careers. The new survey, administered by Merritt Hawkins, includes responses from almost 9,000 physicians across the country and underscores the overall impact of excessive regulatory/insurer requirements, loss of clinical autonomy, and challenges with electronic health record (EHR) design/interoperability on physician attitudes toward their medical practice environment and overall dissatisfaction — all of which have led to professional burnout.

Seventy-Eight Percent of Physicians Have Experienced Burnout in Their Medical Practices

Survey results show that one of the chief culprits contributing to physician burnout is the frustration physicians feel with the inefficiency of EHRs. “The perceptions of thousands of physicians in the Physicians Foundation’s latest survey reflect front-line observations of our health care system and its impact on all of us, and it’s sobering,” said Gary Price, MD, president of the Foundation. “Their responses provide important insights into many critical issues. The career plans and practice pattern trends revealed in this survey — some of which are a result of burnout — will likely have a significant effect on our physician workforce, and ultimately, everyone’s access to care.”

Seventy-Nine Percent Find Most Satisfaction in Patient Relationships
Consistent with the finding of past biennial Physician Foundation surveys, 79 percent of physicians report that patient relationships continue to be their greatest source of professional satisfaction while intellectual stimulation
was a distant second at 55 percent.

Only 10 Percent of Physicians Feel the Ability to Impact the Health Care System
Ten percent of physicians believe they have a good or great ability to significantly influence the health care system. Tim Norbeck, CEO of the Physicians Foundation, noted, “Practicing physicians are the leaders of our healthcare system, yet their voices are often not heard. Our survey found that over 60 percent of physicians feel they have very little ability to influence the health care system. Our goal at the Physicians Foundation is to give physicians a voice and to ultimately change this paradigm.” Norbeck continued, “We hope policy makers, health care influencers, media, and other stakeholders will use the findings of our survey as a valuable resource to better understand the underlying challenges facing our health care system and, as a result, will formulate effective policies to advance the health and
interests of patients.”

Additional Key Findings

  • Of physicians surveyed, 18.5 percent now practice some form of telemedicine.
  • Only 31 percent of physicians are in private practice, down from 48 percent in 2014.
  • Eighty percent of physicians report being at full capacity or overextended.
  • Forty percent of physicians plan to either retire in the next one to three years or cut back on hours — up from 36 percent in 2016.
  • Forty-six percent of physicians plan to change career paths.
  • Sixty-nine percent of physicians are prescribing fewer pain medications in response to the opioid crisis.
  • • Thirty-one percent of patients do not follow physician treatment plans.

To access the full survey report and to learn more about the Physicians Foundation, visit

About the Physicians Foundation
The Physicians Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that seeks to advance the work of practicing physicians and helps them facilitate the delivery of health care to patients. It pursues its mission through a variety of activities including grant-making, research, white papers, and policy studies.

Since 2005, the Foundation has awarded numerous multi-year grants totaling more than $50 million. In addition, the Foundation focuses on the
following core areas: physician leadership, physician practice trends, physician shortage issues, and the impact of health care reform on physicians and patients. As the health care system in America continues to evolve, the Physicians Foundation is steadfast in its determination to strengthen the patient-physician relationship and assist physicians in sustaining their medical practices in today’s practice environment. For more information, visit

About Merritt Hawkins
Merritt Hawkins is a leading physician search and consulting firm in the United States and is a company of AMN Healthcare (NYSE: AMN). For more information, visit