Wide variation in physician career satisfaction seen across local markets

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Nearly 18 percent of physicians dissatisfied with career

Physician career satisfaction levels are relatively consistent from year to year, and a clear majority of physicians nationally are satisfied with their careers. However, a survey showed significant variation in satisfaction levels across local health care markets. It also found that nationally, 18 percent of physicians were somewhat or very dissatisfied. “Physician career satisfaction is one indicator of the overall health of our health care delivery system,” says lead author Bruce Landon, assistant professor of health care policy and medicine at the Harvard Medical School Department of Health Care Policy and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “For example, excellent, but dissatisfied physicians could decide to leave the practice of medicine early, and highly talented students might opt for different career paths if the perception exists that medicine is not a fulfilling career,” he said. “Both of these outcomes would clearly weaken patient care and the health care system in general.” For each of three years, roughly 80 percent of primary care and specialist physicians were somewhat or very satisfied with their careers, and nearly 18 percent were somewhat or very dissatisfied with their careers. The results appeared in the Jan. 22, 2003 Journal of the American Medical Association.