Home Career A look at career satisfaction levels among hospitalists

A look at career satisfaction levels among hospitalists

While satisfaction levels are down and dissatisfaction is up, most hospitalists say they are "satisfied"

March 2023

LOOK AT THE TOP-LEVEL statistics for job satisfaction among hospitalists, and the numbers don’t look so bad. A huge majority—82%, to be precise—reported in the 2022 Today’s Hospitalist Compensation & Career survey that they were satisfied or very satisfied.

Drill down a little, however, and the data start to show some cracks. Only one out of five hospitalists, for example, say they are very satisfied with their careers. That’s a big drop from our last survey in 2019, when 55% said they were very satisfied.

And while less than one-fifth of hospitalists (18%) say they are dissatisfied with their career, that number is 10% higher than in our previous survey.

The following chart shows career satisfaction trends for hospitalists over time:

Career satisfaction among hospitalists fluctuates even more when you look at factors like patient volume and type of practice. Here’s a look at what our latest survey data found.

Patient volume
If there’s a tipping point for dissatisfaction, our data seem to show that having 18 or more patient encounters per shift is the magic number. While about 13% of hospitalists who have nine through 17 patient encounters per shift say they’re dissatisfied, that number jumps to 24% for hospitalists who have 18 to 20 patient encounters. It jumps again to 30% for hospitalists with 21 or more patient encounters per shift.Shift length
When it comes to shift length, dissatisfaction levels stay below 20% until hospitalists begin working 13-hour or longer shifts.

Among hospitalists working 12-hour shifts, for example, dissatisfaction levels are at just under 18%. For hospitalists working shifts of 13 hours or more, that percentage jumps up to 25.6%.

The following chart gives more detail on the intersection of shift length and hospitalist satisfaction:

Pay matters
Look at hourly pay rates and annual pay, and pay definitely seems to correlate to satisfaction. Satisfaction rates are significantly higher among hospitalists who earn more.

For hospitalists who reported being very satisfied, for example, average compensation was just over $389,000. For hospitalists saying they’re dissatisfied, by comparison, average compensation came in at just over $305,000. That’s a 27% difference.

And while working more hours is usually associated with lower levels of satisfaction, hospitalists who boost their income by picking up extra shifts also report higher satisfaction levels. Even when hospitalists have to work more hours to earn more, they seem to derive more career satisfaction.

Employer type
Where hospitalists work and their type of practice also make a big difference. The highest levels of dissatisfaction, for example, are found in national hospitalist management groups, where one in three hospitalists report being somewhat or very unsatisfied. A high number of hospitalists (27.5%) at universities/medical schools also say they’re dissatisfied—although academic hospitalists also reported the highest level of being “very satisfied” (22.5%).

Multispecialty/primary care groups and local hospitalist groups report lower than average levels of dissatisfaction and the second highest level (21.6%) of satisfaction.

The following chart gives more detail on hospitalist satisfaction by employer type:

Work experience
In terms of the relationship between work experience and satisfaction, the data aren’t clear-cut.

Hospitalists with 20-plus years in the specialty are most satisfied, for example, with 36.4% saying they’re very satisfied. But in the group with the next level of experience, those in the specialty for 15 to 19 years, the very satisfied number drops to 17%. Perhaps just as importantly, the dissatisfaction percentage for that group is the highest of any group in this category: 21%.

The second biggest group of hospitalists who say they’re very satisfied—about 27%—have worked in the specialty for two years or less. But that group also has the second highest number of dissatisfied hospitalists at 20%.

Look at a bigger group of hospitalists—those with five to 14 years in the specialty—and you’ll see that about 20% are very satisfied. The dissatisfaction rates in that group are in the high teens.

Finally, gender seems to play a distinct role in hospitalist career satisfaction, with female hospitalists reporting significantly more dissatisfaction with their careers. While 26% of women hospitalists say they’re dissatisfied, that’s the case for only 16% of male hospitalists.

Published in the March/April 2023 issue of Today’s Hospitalist

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