Professional Satisfaction and the Career Plans of US Physicians

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Abstract

Objective

To evaluate the relationship between burnout, satisfaction with electronic health records and work-life integration, and the career plans of US physicians.

Participants and Methods

Physicians across all specialties in the United States were surveyed between August 28, 2014, and October 6, 2014. Physicians provided information regarding the likelihood of reducing clinical hours in the next 12 months and the likelihood of leaving current practice within the next 24 months.

Results

Of 35,922 physicians contacted, 6880 (19.2%) returned surveys. Of the 6695 physicians in clinical practice at the time of the survey (97.3%), 1275 of the 6452 who responded (19.8%) reported it was likely or definite that they would reduce clinical work hours in the next 12 months, and 1726 of the 6496 who responded (26.6%) indicated it was likely or definite that they would leave their current practice in the next 2 years. Of the latter group, 126 (1.9% of the 6695 physicians in clinical practice at the time of the survey) indicated that they planned to leave practice altogether and pursue a different career. Burnout (odds ratio [OR], 1.81; 95% CI, 1.49-2.19; P<.001), dissatisfaction with work-life integration (OR, 1.65; 95% CI, 1.27-2.14; P<.001), and dissatisfaction with the electronic health record (OR, 1.44; 95% CI, 1.16-1.80; P=.001) were independent predictors of intent to reduce clinical work hours and leave current practice.

Conclusion

Nearly 1 in 5 US physicians intend to reduce clinical work hours in the next year, and roughly 1 in 50 intend to leave medicine altogether in the next 2 years to pursue a different career. If physicians follow through on these intentions, it could profoundly worsen the projected shortage of US physicians.

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