Dr. Ted Nukes, a neurologist in Indiana for almost two decades, has seen his practice dwindle from nine physicians and 14 offices in the mid-2000s to just two main offices and three physicians today. He's now seriously considering leaving medicine.
"I have a connection to my community and I don't want to be seen as a quitter but it's a matter of survival," he said.
The bulk of Nukes' patients are on Medicare or Medicaid and suffer from serious conditions such as epilepsy and celebral palsy. Shrinking reimbursements from those programs have hit hard, he said -- the practice didn't make a profit last year, and his income has fallen more than 85%.
To supplement his income, he's been playing the stock market and swing trading.
If he does decide to leave medicine, Nukes said he might consider a career in investing. To that end, he's attending a value investing conference in New York later this month to hone his skills.
Still, Nukes is keenly aware that the satisfaction he gets from treating patients can't be easily replicated in another career. He mentions a young patient with cerebral palsy, to whom he gave Botox shots in the back and neck to relieve his painful spasms and twisting.
"The injections were very painful, too, but the man said 'Thanks' to me that day," Nukes said. "Before then I had never heard him talk."
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