Behind the white coats: Looking at the lifestyles of today’s physicians
Monday, May 19, 2014
When we visit our physicians, we usually don't think about the commitment they made to be able to treat us — four years of medical school, three to seven years of residency, another few years of fellowship. Most likely, physicians have spent seven to 10 years of their lives preparing to practice medicine.
But that across-the-board time commitment doesn't make all physicians the same. In fact, a national survey of 125,000 practicing physicians revealed intriguing differences from finances and career plans to personal lifestyles.
Here are some of the relevant findings by the AMA Insurance survey:
- Gender gap: There is no gender gap in the under-age-40 physician world.
- Work hours: 20 percent of female physicians under 40 with children at home work less than 40 hours per week.
- Retirement savings: Asked about more retirement savings, physicians under age 40 (65 percent) said they would like to have $200,000-$500,000 more in savings at this point in their life; physicians over age 60 would like to have $1 million-plus more. Males in all age groups were more likely to want $1 million-plus in incremental savings than female physicians.
- Social media: Female physicians are more likely to use Facebook than males. Male physicians, especially under age 40, are more likely to use LinkedIn than female counterparts.
The key findings of this survey revealed that there is no single profile for U.S. physicians when it comes to lifestyle but rather distinct profiles related to different age groups.
Nearly 40 percent of physicians are likely to have a spouse who is a physician or healthcare professional. Although most physicians work 40-60 hours a week, nearly 25 percent work 60-80 hours a week — or more. Seventy percent of physicians work primarily days, and about 30 percent work a combination of days and nights. Only 1 percent of all physicians work strictly nights.
When it comes to student loans, 73 percent of physicians under age 40 years had debt after medical school, with nearly half owing $150,000 to $200,000 or more. And 83 percent are still paying off their loans.
Most of the survey respondents plan to continue practicing as they do now for the next five years; 23 percent under age 40 plan to change employers, and 44 percent age 60-69 plan to retire.
Retirement savings remain a top financial concern for all physicians. On average, only 6 percent consider themselves ahead of schedule in saving for retirement, with half behind where they would like to be. In hindsight, the majority of physicians would have sought a financial advisor, spent more time on financial planning and used different investments early in their careers.
Outside of work, most all age groups are highly active. Top activities include running/jogging, bicycling, aerobics and camping/hiking.
All in all, looking at physicians today, they have much in common, including medical school debt and education commitment. However, their profiles differ distinctly by age and gender, and this survey demonstrates a wide range of insights spanning home and family life to career plans and retirement.
About the survey: The national survey was sent to 125,000 practicing U.S. physicians up to age 69 years of age in October 2013. The respondent profile showed almost equal representation across age segments (24 percent ages 30-39; 25 percent ages 40-49; 29 percent ages 50-59; 22 percent 60-69); a 62-38 percent male-to-female ratio. 29 percent of respondents were in family medicine and internal medicine, 11 percent in pediatrics, 7 percent in obstetrics/gynecology and 53 percent in other specialties and subspecialties.
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