Many doctors dissatisfied with pay, work conditions

SHANGHAI – Nearly 96 percent of doctors in China believe their incomes fail to reflect how hard they work and their true worth, according to a recent survey.

That is about four percentage points above what the number was in 2009.

The survey was conducted from March to April by the Chinese Medical Doctor Association. It polled more than 6,000 doctors at hospitals in the country’s 11 provinces and municipalities. Its aim was to reveal the real conditions that Chinese doctors work in and to gauge their satisfaction with their jobs.

 
 

The survey found that 19.02 percent of Chinese doctors are satisfied with their work conditions and that 48.51 percent are not. Doctors from basic or rural hospitals were the least satisfied of all. Only about 11.5 percent of the former and 5.5 percent of the latter said they like the work, percentages that were much lower than those that came from doctors in high-, middle-level or urban hospitals.

In response to those results, the survey concluded that hospitals and clinics at the basic level should receive more support, which will help to keep the medical staff at such places stable and to ensure the public receives basic health services.

Meanwhile, 70.7 percent of the respondents said the pressure they feel mainly comes from medical disputes, heavy workloads and the high expectations of patients.

With the relations between doctors and patients becoming increasingly strained, hospitals throughout the country are becoming the sites of more violence. When asked about that trend, 55.7 percent of the respondents said the public is prejudiced against doctors. And 53.8 percent said media outlets are carrying more critical reports about doctors.

In the meantime, doctors blamed the tense relations on the current medical system, including the systems used to manage hospitals, compensate patients for malpractice, process insurance payments and ensure that hospitals are following a common set of laws.

Because of the work pressures and low incomes found in the profession, nearly 80 percent of the respondents said they don’t want their children to be doctors in the future. Only 6.8 percent of doctors said they hope their children will take the career path they had chosen.

According to sources from the Beijing municipal health bureau, more than 2,000 medical workers have changed their careers in the past three years.

In the US, doctors are among the professionals making the most money. Doctors’ incomes there are, on average, from two to four times greater than those of civil servants.

In China, in contrast, the average salary of doctors is only 1.19 times greater than what is made on average by people in the rest of society. That’s much lower, for instance, than the average salary of college teachers, which is 1.71 times greater than the average income earned by the general ranks of workers, said Yin Dakui, director of Chinese Medical Doctor Association.

A newly graduated doctor surnamed Chen said he makes about 2,000 yuan ($310) a month working at a middle-level hospital in Tianjin.

“I am worried about surviving in this city,” he said. “It’s really hard to hold on to this career.”

Yin warned the conditions in which doctors must work pose a hidden threat to China’s plans to reform the country’s medical system.

“Health authorities and the rest of society should pay more attention to this issue and make sure it is solved properly,” he said.

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