Neurologists Least Happy of All Physicians

Allison Shelley

March 23, 2012

March 23, 2012 — Neurologists scoring themselves on a new survey report they are the least happy of all physicians.

Asked to rate their level of happiness on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the least happy and 5 being the happiest, the average happiness score for all physicians was 3.96. Rheumatologists, dermatologists, and urologists were among the happiest, but with a score of 3.88, neurologists tied with gastroenterologists and internists for the least happy of all specialists.

These are the findings of the new Medscape 2012 Physician Lifestyle Report published online Thursday, March 22. More than 29,000 physicians in the United States responded to survey questions over a 2-week period in January.

Many neurologists are currently driving Japanese cars like the Toyota Camry.

The new report spans 25 specialties and offers insights into who these professionals are and how they live outside of practicing medicine.

Most neurologists are married, are the least likely of all physicians to get a divorce, believe in a higher power, take on average 2 to 4 vacation weeks a year, and have a Facebook account.

What are neurologists most likely to be doing after work? Reading or working out, most said. Traveling, enjoying cultural events, tasting food and wine, and surfing the Web were also popular past times.

Some neurologists said they were into fly fishing, farming, and collecting and racing vintage cars. Playing video games and watching Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert also made the list for some.

Most neurologists described themselves as fiscally conservative, but socially liberal on the political scale.

Last year, the top 3 best-selling cars in the United States were foreign-made, with Toyota, Nissan, and Honda topping the list. Ford came in fourth. Neurologists answering the Medscape survey also listed foreign cars in their top 5 with Toyota leading the pack, Honda next, followed by BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Lexus.

Neurologists driving American cars were most likely to be at the wheel of a Ford.

Drinking and Smoking

According to a 2010 Gallup poll, 67% of US adults drink alcohol. Physicians, including neurologists, are a bit ahead of the national average, with 71% reporting that they drink. Like all physicians surveyed, however, neurologists tend not to overindulge. More than a half of respondents reported having fewer than 1 drink a day.

However, neurologists report higher smoking rates than the general physician population surveyed, at 2.7% versus 1.8%, respectively.

And a striking number of neurologists, 32%, reported being overweight, with 4.8% saying they are obese.

Still, neurologists reported doing better than the average American when it comes to exercise. Most participate in aerobic activities and weight training. Some are involved in competitive sports, yoga, or tai chi.

Financial Difficulties

Many neurologists perceive themselves as having financial difficulties. Over 40% of neurologists in active practice said that they had no or minimal savings for their age and stage of life. Only 12% of practicing neurologists believe their savings are more than adequate.

This is in line with concerns raised by the American Academy of Neurology. More than 140 members from across the country headed to Washington earlier this month to warn lawmakers of the potential for a nationwide shortage of neurologists and long wait times for neurologic care.

"Cognitive care, or face-to-face time with neurologists, is underappreciated and undervalued by the current Medicare payment system, but is essential in treating people with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and hundreds of other neurologic disorders " president Bruce Sigsbee, MD, told Medscape Medical News when neurologists met with members of Congress.

In a 2011 poll by National Journal and the Regence Foundation, 71% of the general population believed that quality of life was more important than length of life. Neurologists are more ambivalent, with approximately 24% being uncertain about how they would respond if they were told they had a terminal illness. Almost 63% of neurologists said that they would choose quality over length of life, and only about 14% were certain about getting aggressive treatment.

The authors of this report have disclosed no relevant financial relationships. Survey respondents were entered into a sweepstakes to win an Apple iPad 2 16GB Wi-Fi Enabled Device awarded to 5 physicians.

Medscape Physician Lifestyle Report 2012.


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