These days, the practice of medicine is changing as more and more doctors trade in their private practice signs for positions with corporations. His recollection is that things had become dull. They are tired of simply listening to a list of patient complaints and writing referrals to specialists.` With the ever increasing cost of malpractice insurance, many physicians have given up the traditional aspects of medicine such as obstetrics, surgery and general and family practice. His practice had turned into little more than a stopping point for the patient ultimately destined for a specialist.
This doctor exchanged his place in a group practice to become the assistant medical development director for a pharmaceutical manufacturer in New Jersey. Like him, many doctors are now finding fulfillment working as company physicians in corporations of all sizes. The physicians who have become affiliated with corporations are fatigued by the trials of private practice, the prevalence of governmental and insurance-related meddling in medical matters, the political atmosphere in academia and the necessity of drumming up research money. A particular municipality, needing to better employee wellness and product safety, is happy to bring them aboard. The majority are still employed in the medical realm, some in occupational health advisory roles, some in pharmaceutical research, though business has emerged has having more appeal for some than medicine does.
The compensation offered by the municipality can rival that of private practice. Physicians employed by corporate entities generally work 8-hour days, are provided with paid malpractice coverage, receive time off for educational purposes, and are compensated at levels that are comparable to those who remain in private practice.
Despite the fact that estimates put the number of doctors working as corporate physicians in the thousands, these numbers still only account for about 2 percent of the doctors in the U.S. Thousands of occupational medicine physicians are in charge of not only employee health but also industrial and product safety. There are over 10,000 physicians filling these roles on a part-time basis. Certain doctors are employed in the pharmaceutical industry and thousands more are employed by insurance carriers as underwriters and claims consultants.
For those who do work in corporate medicine, the job title many are seeking is that of chief medical director. With an existing private practice already in place, he accepted part time employment with a restaurant corporation, as it was offered to him and it provided an income stream. The work load sometimes brought up to 60 food handlers and other employees for examination every hour. Later, with some reluctance, he gave up his medical practice to become medical director for two movie studios. He was attracted to the job because of the lack of restrictions on medical treatment often imposed by insurance companies or the patient’s ability to pay.
At one time, a company doctor was looked down upon as someone who wasn’t able to maintain a private practice. Their role was perceived as being limited to the treatment of minor injuries, writing prescriptions and performing check-ups for otherwise healthy patients. However, a shift in opinion and regulations regarding occupational and product safety have rendered corporate doctors newly powerful and worthy of admiration. One director of medicine for a major telecommunications company in New York once commented that it was refreshing to be considered “Legitimate”.
Young medical school graduates, faced with staggering student loans, often opt for company positions. Benefits packages make the positions appealing to older physicians as well. The improvement in the overall quality of life outweighs any loss of net income they have have agreed to. In the past, many of my colleagues believed occupational medicine to be a poor choice. A particular physician believes that many doctors have grown jealous.
It seems that the corporate doctors who decided against practicing medicine altogether are the ones who made the most money. A 78-year-old multi-millionaire, who never had a private practice, is possibly the most well-known corporate physician; setting an example for other doctors. As a matter of fact, he made his first million dollars while still in medical school, because he saved his father’s drug company from collapse. As soon as he graduated medical school, he purchased an army field hospital in order to aid people in the Soviet Union, where famine had set in. He discovered that food, not medicine, was most needed; in the process of importing grain, he established the trade contacts that became the stepping stones for his future business career.
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