Survey Results Lead to New AMA Initiative About Physicians’ Motivations

An American Medical Association survey shows that an overwhelming majority of physicians are happy with their career choice, and a new brand initiative celebrates them and speaks to their challenges.

The American Medical Association (AMA) is using the results of its recent survey of physicians’ perceptions and motivations to launch a new brand initiative. The survey asked 1,200 physicians, residents, and medical students when they knew they wanted to become physicians, who encouraged them, what challenges they face, and whether they are satisfied with their career choice.

Three-quarters of respondents said helping people was a top motivator. Personal experiences as a patient or volunteer, or with family members, often played a part in respondents’ career choice, and many of them realized when they were young that they wanted to be physicians. Seventy-three percent of respondents said they knew before they turned 20, and nearly a third knew before entering their teens. The fact that many knew at a young age is compelling, said AMA Chief Communications and Marketing Officer Rod Sierra. “And it’s reassuring, as a patient, that their passion lies in what they are doing,” he said.

In addition, the survey found that half of physicians consider the practice of medicine a calling, and 9 in 10 are satisfied with their career choice, despite the challenges they face. Sixty-one percent said they would encourage others to enter the field. Respondents’ top-three challenges were administrative burden, stress, and lack of time, but a larger proportion of residents said long hours and on-call schedule were among their top challenges.

“Physicians may be discouraged at times, but almost every single one of us remains confident in our decision to enter medicine and continues to be driven by our desire to help our patients,” said AMA President Andrew Gurman in a statement. “As an organization, the AMA is constantly striving to deliver resources that empower physicians to maximize time with their patients and help them succeed at every stage of their medical lives. Understanding the challenges physicians face, as well as their motivations for continuing on, is critical to fulfilling that mission.”

With continuing debates about healthcare reform and a range of other challenges, physicians are worried. “We know how difficult it is out there,” Sierra said. We really want people to understand that we get what they deal with on a day-to-day basis.”

To help with this, AMA is launching a brand initiative that sets out to recognize and celebrate the core reasons physicians choose the profession—and to highlight the initiatives and resources the AMA provides to support them throughout their careers.

The initiative features individual stories, including those of Margo Roemeling, an MD candidate who overcame a difficult upbringing to help patients in rural communities; Shira Einstein, an MD candidate who conquered cancer as a teenager to pursue pediatrics; Scott Yang, a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon whose childhood friend with cerebral palsy inspired his career choice; and Eli Zimmerman, a neurologist who is committed to helping stroke victims. “Telling stories from their perspective is really powerful,” Sierra said. “It’s important to highlight and celebrate them.”

The brand initiative will reach physicians through print, digital, and social media platforms. “It’s a new way to listen to, talk with, and provide resources to them,” Sierra said. This includes current AMA members as well as nonmembers.

The initiative aims to reach nonmember students, residents, and physicians across the country and let them know that “the AMA understands them and their needs and has resources to address their needs,” Sierra said, adding that even if the AMA doesn’t currently have resources to address specific needs, it can work to create solutions. The initiative is “opening a dialogue.”

Allison Torres Burtka

By Allison Torres Burtka

Allison Torres Burtka, a longtime association journalist, is a freelance writer and editor in West Bloomfield, Michigan. MORE

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