Abused physicians: Quitting practice only hurts yourself and your patients

Quitting your practice rarely happens when you have a backup support system in place. Have you ever wondered why so many of our physician associates are permanently leaving medical practice intentionally or rapidly jumping into medical practice employment positions without hesitation? The temptations are enormous.

Our business advisors, medical literature, and articles exposure pound us with jobs outside of medical practice on the fringes. But who wants to start a new career or occupation? We already know that our government has been purposely restricting our private medical practices in many ways so that we are forced to quit and join government-controlled medical facilities.

That eliminates our freedom to practice as we want and our control of our medical destiny and our careers. You play the game of practice dictation or are fired.

Why do you think that over many decades there has been no solution to the increasing burnout, no moves by the medical education system to prevent the stress, disappointment, and increased workloads we all seem to fall into line with as the primary backup we were looking for all along?

All these increasingly abusive treatments of physicians may only increase with time. You certainly are sick and tired of tolerating these outside encroachments, as I am. My 20+ years of research on the many potential causes for every physician’s break from medical practice come to one conclusion: everything relates back to your income and financial stresses.

We all know that we cannot accomplish anything in life without money. The less the income, the greater the stress. The less the income, the less you can accomplish. That triggers our intent to earn more income. However, we have been brainwashed so thoroughly in our medical schools and prior education that our income comes secondary to medical patient care. We tolerate all the abuse because we are intimidated into believing the lie.

Factually, every physician who has practiced medicine over the last century in our nation has concluded they are lacking something important. It is not difficult to understand. The more income you have, the better you can afford new skills and medical knowledge, meet the financial obligations of your family, prepare for retirement funding, and find yourself more comfortable with practicing.

The primary barrier to your increase in income is the lack of patients. What comes with that fact are the multiple stresses that wake you up at night. What they never tell you is that the more medical patients you cram into your office time leads to a harbinger of events that eventually become intolerable. More medical mistakes and more disruption of your office staff and procedures, among others.

Family wealth enables a few physicians to practice in peace. Their barriers disappear promptly with few, if any, complaints.

What are your alternatives? Take on a second job—and work harder? Quit and run? Your due diligence has failed you—you never recognized that medical practice is a business that requires business knowledge. Medical schools have never offered business education to medical school students over the last century and are at fault for that lack of education.

It is a clear and resounding message that the scholars do not consider you worth the benefits of business education. They don’t care what happens to you following your medical school graduation—or they would have corrected the mistake. Medical schools then wonder why less than 10 percent of graduates ever donate back to their medical schools.

The only backup to your insufficient income from medical practice is to obtain a business education however you can (an MBA is too superficial to be of value to physicians). So, who is helping you with your income issues? I teach it, coach it, and love the chance to prevent any physician from losing their medical practice or being employed.

My advice to physicians is to always have a backup plan or job ready. It was my grandfather’s advice years ago, and I failed to follow it. I lost my practice and made it through the gauntlet that followed. I lost everything of importance to me, and it destroyed my medical career. No doubt there are hundreds or thousands of physicians in our nation who have been or are now, in that desperate situation.

It can be easily avoided if:

Premed schools should push business education before med school—it is rare to find a premed course that does that.

Medical students are diligent enough to obtain a real business education (not an MBA) while in medical school—which is likely 10 to 20 years in the future.

Physicians require their office staff to keep records of the number of patients who join and leave their practice—this is the best indicator of practice growth or failure.

Practice financial problems are recognized and confirmed with the monthly CPA summary. Three consecutive monthly decreases in practice income with no obvious cause require a business consultation, at least. Most private practice physicians never see the problem coming, and it is often too late to fix it.

All medical schools, internationally, would start a curriculum for business education in medical schools—a digital business education online, digitally on DVDs, or on my pending website and course covering management and marketing in detail.

AAMC (American Association of Medical Colleges) supervises and controls all medical school curriculums in the USA, and all changes must be approved by congressional oversight. It would require a 50,000-physician crowd screaming demands on the steps of the U.S. Congress to even start to notice this perpetual and destructive gap in medical school education. The 12 to 15 physicians in Congress accomplish nothing at all, it seems.

Curtis G. Graham is a physician.

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