A look at career satisfaction and burnout

A look at career satisfaction and burnout

June 2011
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Published in the June 2011 issue of Today’s Hospitalist

How satisfied are hospitalists with the specialty and their jobs? According to data from the 2010 Today’s Hospitalist Compensation & Career Survey, hospitalists give their chosen field relatively high marks. The overwhelming majority say they’re satisfied with their careers, and most view hospital medicine as a long-term endeavor.

Not all the news, however, is so sunny. Despite those rave reviews, large numbers of hospitalists worry that burnout remains a big challenge for the field. Here’s a look at the numbers.

Satisfaction
The good news is that physicians say they are overwhelmingly satisfied with their careers as hospitalists.

On a scale of one to 10 (with 10 being the best), hospitalists ranked their satisfaction as a mean of 7.82. Just over two- thirds of hospitalists (67.5%) gave a satisfaction score of eight or higher, while only 10% of respondents reported a satisfaction score of five or lower.

Hospitalist satisfaction was slightly higher for pediatric hospitalists, who weighed in with a score of 8.08, compared to adult hospitalists, whose mean score was 7.76.

There were no major differences in hospitalist satisfaction by type of employer, although hospitalists working for multi- specialty/primary care groups reported the highest satisfaction scores (8.10).

Volume and schedule
Certain trends linking patient volumes and work schedules to job satisfaction probably come as no surprise. The more patients that hospitalists see per shift, for example, the lower their satisfaction scores.

Our data also found a minor correlation between shift length and satisfaction scores. Hospitalists who work eight-hour shifts, for example, reported a mean satisfaction score of 8.04, while hospitalists who work 12-hour shifts reported a mean satisfaction score of 7.83.

Career plans
To get more information about hospitalists’ career satisfaction, our survey asked the following two questions: Is hospital medicine a long-term career, and how many years do you plan to continue in your current job?

Again, the news was fairly positive. Nearly three-quarters of hospitalists (73.9%) said they consider hospital medicine a long-term career. only 10% said the specialty would not be their home in the long run, while 16.6% said they didn’t know.

The number of nonacademic hospitalists who said that hospital medicine was their long-term career was lowest for hospitalists working at national management companies (63.4%) and highest for hospitalists working at primary care/ multispecialty groups (83.5%).

One trend worth noting: Hospitalists who worked longer shifts were less likely to think of hospital medicine as a long-term career. While 74.7% of hospitalists working an eight-hour shift considered hospital medicine a long-term career, that percentage fell to 69.6% among those working a 12-hour shift “and 66.7% among those who reported working 24-hour shifts.

When we asked how many years hospitalists planned to remain at their current jobs, the mean answer for all respondents was 9.69 years. That number was considerably higher for pediatric hospitalists (12.69 years) and just a tad lower for adult hospitalists (9.04 years).

Burnout
While hospitalists seem fairly upbeat about the field, concern about burnout remains. Respondents said that they are concerned about the impact of burnout not only on themselves, but on the specialty as a whole.

Nearly two-thirds of hospitalists (64.4%) said that burnout was either a very significant or significant issue for them personally. More than three-quarters (77.1%) said burnout was very significant or significant for their colleagues, and an even larger number “86.7% “claimed that burnout was significant or very significant for the specialty.

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