The strike by healthcare workers at Kaiser Permanente may not involve physicians (yet). But as more doctors in the United States are finding themselves working as salaried employees, physicians can — and probably will — become a powerful force for change in a healthcare system that has shown itself to be increasingly hostile to employee concerns over issues involving patient care, wages and benefits, safety, and well-being.
Salaried employment has its challenges. Physician-employees may have less autonomy and voice in decision making that affects patients. They may splinter into fragmented workgroups; feel isolated; and have different imperatives based on who they are, what they want, and where they work. They may feel more removed from their patients and struggle to build strong relationships with their employers in the way.