Doctors: Why we can't stay afloat

Being a doctor is not the surefire path to financial security that it once was. These 6 doctors explain why it's becoming more difficult to make ends meet.

Left medicine for insurance work
Left medicine for insurance work
Dr. Amy Odgers
Primary care
Chicago

My colleagues and I are among a growing number of medical doctors who have left [private] practice. I am currently working for a radiology benefits manager. It's a company that contracts with large insurers to review requests for high-tech imaging studies.

Most of us [here] are in primary care specialties, including pediatrics, family practice and internal medicine. We have found that doing what we were trained to do does not allow us to support our families or ourselves. Many of my coworkers would gladly return to patient care if they felt that they could afford it.

My own experience in trying to run a private practice in 2000 and 2001 ended in financial disaster. My husband and I were forced to sell our house, and I spent the next couple of years working for a hospital-owned practice and paying off a $50,000 debt. I was ill-equipped to run a business, and I realize that now. But at the time, it seemed like a better option than working for someone else.

When a friend mentioned that she was doing insurance work and that they needed doctors, I jumped at the opportunity. I now work 20 to 25 hours a week and earn as much as I would working 50 to 60 hours a week in a primary care practice. It wasn't easy to walk away from patient care, but in my case the trade-off has been worth it.

The irony of my situation is not lost on me; I now work for the industry that had a large role in pushing me out of my chosen profession.


By Parija Kavilanz @CNNMoney - Last updated January 10 2012: 8:29 AM ET
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