Defense Health Care:

Military Physicians' Views on Military Medicine

HRD-90-1: Published: Mar 22, 1990. Publicly Released: Mar 22, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the results of its survey of 1,500 active-duty physicians to assess the: (1) likelihood that they would leave the military; and (2) factors that influenced their decisions to leave the service.

GAO found that: (1) almost half of the surveyed physicians indicated at least a 70-percent probability that they would leave the military after they completed their service obligations, and two-thirds expressed a 50-percent probability of leaving; (2) physicians reported dissatisfaction with such aspects of military medicine as low compensation, inadequate numbers of administration and health support personnel, inadequate hospital equipment, inability to provide continuous care to patients, excessive quality assurance tasks, and lack of opportunities to attend professional meetings and training; (3) physicians' intentions to leave were most influenced by the amount of time they spent on non-physician tasks, the gap between military and civilian physician compensation, and the lack of opportunity to practice in their primary specialties; (4) physicians who had completed their initial service obligations were influenced to leave by the number of unwanted transfers; and (5) further analysis of the data suggested that the military could most effectively reduce the probability of physicians leaving military service by increasing compensation, decreasing the time they spent on non-physician tasks, or both.

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