Employed Physician – Is Respect a Number?

Posted by Dike Drummond MD

employed physicians deal with the devilEmployed Physician – is respect a number (and have you made a deal with the devil?)

I have a  client who left an employed position in a big group a couple of years ago. He felt like a “production unit” in that organization rather than a valued member of the medical staff and a fellow human being.

It was just a feeling for him at the time … and it was enough for him to pull up his practice and move to a much smaller organization and a leadership role.

His memory of being an employed physician at that big clinic has stuck with me … here’s what he said,

“It was as if every morning all the doctors came in, punched the clock and then each one shut themselves in their individual office to climb on their individual gerbil wheel for the day. “

He still keeps in touch with his former colleagues at the big group and it seems things are getting worse. An employed physician friend called him the other day about an emergency meeting administration had called … seems his numbers weren’t meeting an invisible quota … and this doctor was told to Shape Up or Ship Out … literally.

Which raises a couple of questions …

If you have signed a contract to be an employed physician
- Is Respect a Number?
- Will they love you when you meet your quota?

Here is the gist of the meeting as described by the employed physician at the MegaGroup.

Meeting called on short notice.

“Your numbers are not good enough…
Here is a plan to improve your “performance”
You need to dedicate yourself to growing your practice and increasing your billing to hit these production numbers
We will review your performance at 30-60-90 days

If you don’t Shape Up, we will terminate your employment here at MegaGroup”

Then he was given a CONTRACT TO SIGN containing all of these conditions.

I have a couple of questions here:

=> What is the group doing to help him grow his practice?

=> What is the group doing that is actually getting in the way of him growing his practice? Big groups are not exactly incubators of entrepreneurial spirit in my experience.

=> What about quality? What is the quality of the medicine this doctor practices and how do his patients feel about him?

=> What about a little respect?

It would seem that as an employed physician respect is available to you ONLY after you hit your production numbers

- at least it would seem that way in this group.

Recent estimates of practice consolidation around the country say 75% of physicians will be employees by the end of the year. New hospital owned networks are popping up all over the country.  When you sign that contract are you making a deal with the devil?


– Are you an employed physician? If not … why not?
– Has this kind of meeting happened to  you?
– What would you think, do and say if it did?