Private Practice Insights: Working More, Making Less

By Stuart A. Bussey, M.D., J.D., UAPD President

Here are some statistics from Medical Economics that confirm what we already know—doctors are working long hours to see more patients and taking home less money.  For instance, in the 2012 Medical Economics survey, internists worked a median of 51 hours per week, unchanged since 2008.  Family physicians had a median of 50 hours, also without a significant change.  Both groups saw about 98 patients per week on average.  There were some gender and age differences.  Men worked about 51 hours a week while women averaged 47 hours a week.  Docs over age 65 averaged only 77 patients a week while younger doctors below 35 averaged 83 patients a week.

Some possible explanations for the increase in hours and patients: doctors are paying better attention to their schedule due to the efficiencies of EHR, adding more convenient hours, filling time gaps, or adding hospital and nursing home visits.  Demanding that patients come in instead of utilizing phone or email may be another explanation.