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Michigan Physician Survey: Understanding Opportunities to Improve Provider Satisfaction

Michigan Health Council (MHC) recently collected survey data from Michigan physicians, which highlights key demographics and aims to explore the connection between physician satisfaction and various aspects of physician practice. This survey also included an open-ended section at the end, which allowed physicians to elevate key issues that they believe require more study and attention if physician practice is to remain one of the healthier occupations in Michigan. As we have found in previous surveys, monitoring the satisfaction of Michigan’s healthier occupations and asking probing questions can unearth underlying issues that can potentially threaten the well-being of these occupations.



What Is Your Gender Identity?

The survey received 414 responses over six weeks, a total response rate of 8.7 percent. The sample size is representative – meaning it accurately reflects the characteristics of the Michigan physician population – of the physician workforce in Michigan. Of these respondents, 67 percent identify their gender as male, and 33 percent identify as female (While MHC recognizes that gender is fluid, for the purposes of this survey, we defined it as binary). 88 percent of respondents are currently practicing medicine, completing their residency, or completing their intern year, while 12 percent of respondents holding a physician license are retired or left the workforce. Of these practicing respondents, two-thirds (67 percent) provide specialty care, while 33 percent provide primary care. Lastly, in terms of demographics, 77 percent of surveyed physicians hold a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree, while 22 percent hold a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree.


A key objective of MHC’s Physician Survey was to explore questions related to rural healthcare and physician satisfaction. Additionally, we sought to compare several variables across genders to ascertain if there are significant differences regarding who benefits from loan repayment programs, who practices in rural areas, and who provides primary care. Survey results found that while 27 percent of physicians report utilizing federal or state programs during their residency, only 10 percent of physicians report that the program conditions or availability had influenced them to practice in a rural area or hospital. While parsing most of the results by gender did not yield interesting findings, the results of one question did. When asked whether the loan repayment program conditions and their availability had an influence on where physicians practice, twice the percentage of women responded that it affected where they decided to practice as men.


Influence of Loan Repayment Programs on Place of Practice by Gender

Gender Identity




14.29% (19)



7.72% (21)

90.07% (245)



In terms of satisfaction, the overwhelming majority of respondents are satisfied in their current positions.

However, there are underlying factors that have a positive correlation with satisfaction in the survey. The survey incorporated a dummy variable – a binary variable that asked physicians if they feel supported by their hospital administration. The results show that 52 percent of physicians do not feel supported by their hospital administrations, 35 percent feel supported by their hospital administrations, while another 13 percent chose not to answer the question.

Do You Feel Supported by Your Hospital Administration?

This question delivers an important variable for understanding physician satisfaction. A linear regression equation that asserts that physician satisfaction is a function of the number of hours per week physicians spend attending to administrative tasks, whether they feel supported by their current hospital administrations, whether they utilize any form of loan repayment program, and whether they provide primary care yields the following results:

admin_support: whether physicians feel supported by the current hospital administration. admin_tasks: Number of hours per week spent attending to administration tasks. state_fed_pro: utilize loan repayment. primary_care: provider of primary care.

While variables like the time spent on administrative tasks per week, whether the respondent utilized state or federal loan repayment programs, and whether the respondent provides primary or specialty care are not significant to the analysis (meaning they have no observable effect on physician satisfaction), being supported by their hospital administrations is significant at the .001 level. This result shows that male respondents experience an almost 2-unit increase in satisfaction, while female respondents experience a 1-unit increase, and the combined model (both sexes) experience a 1.6-unit increase.


This finding is important, as employers can explore many ways to increase physician satisfaction or keep satisfaction stable. Many respondents in the open-ended comment section mention that administrative tasks affect their ability to provide patient care, and decreasing their burdens could yield positive benefits. This survey data, however, supports the conclusion that fostering supportive hospital administrative teams provides the greatest benefit for physicians in terms of increasing satisfaction.


Comparing the Nurse and Physician Workforces

Comparing the rates of planned retirements between physicians and nurses – both integral professions in a care delivery team – also highlights why physicians are seen as a more “healthy profession.” According to a statewide study from the University of Michigan conducted in April 2023, 39 percent of nurses in the sample planned to retire or leave the workforce in the next year.¹ Comparatively, in the MHC analysis, 14 percent of physicians are planning to retire or leave the workforce in the next one to three years, while 50 percent of physician respondents are planning to stay in the workforce for another 10+ years. 

Years Physicians Believe They Will Remain in the Workforce

MHC Insight’s Take

While the general satisfaction of the physician occupation is high, and the workforce has a solid and growing base, stakeholders looking to address physician shortage areas can focus more on

¹ Medvec, B. R., Marriott, D. J., Khadr, L., Ridge, L. J., Lee, K. A., Friese, C.R., & Titler, M. G. (2023). Patterns and Correlates of Nurse Departures From the Health Care Workforce: Results From a Statewide Survey. Medical Care, 61(5), 321-327.



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