Doctor Lifestyle

For Doctors, What Does Job Satisfaction Mean?

For Doctors, What Does Job Satisfaction Mean?

As a definition, job satisfaction can be described in several different ways. Some individuals believe that it refers to one’s contentment with his or her job due to the nature of their work, promotion and career development opportunities, or status, as well as pay. Still, others believe that it refers to one’s psychological response to his or her job, that is, their passion for their work. Therefore, job satisfaction is completely dependent on your own perspective of the notion. It can be measured by several factors, including cognitions about your job (duties and responsibilities, quality of supervision, position, pay, etc.) or your feelings toward your job (passion, drive, etc.) – many of which are within your control.

Job satisfaction in healthcare plays a significant role in quality of care delivered to patients. According to a recent study conducted on doctors’ satisfaction, funded by the American Medical Association (AMA), findings revealed that delivering high-quality care is the main driver of job satisfaction among doctors, while obstacles that hinder such satisfaction seem to be various sources of stress. The study gathered data from 30 practices in a total of 6 states, using a combination of in-depth interviews and surveys, to better understand the issues (sources of stress) that drive job satisfaction among doctors – quality of care, use of electronic health records (EHRs), practice leadership, quantity of work-related tasks, and pace of the working environment.

Most doctors said that EHRs helped improve their overall job satisfaction, while others reported that EHRs slowed them down and did not fulfill their actual needs and the needs of their practices. “Physicians believe in the benefits of electronic health records, and most do not want to go back to paper charts. But at the same time, they report that electronic systems are deeply problematic in several ways. Physicians are frustrated by systems that force them to do clerical work or distract them from paying close attention to their patients,” said Dr. Mark Friedberg, lead author of the study. Some practices reported to reducing work-related frustrations by identifying factors that cause stress and by working towards eliminating them. For instance, some practices hired additional staff members to conduct clerical and administrative tasks, thus helping doctors’ focus their attention more on engaging with patients. “Overcoming modern medicine's greatest obstacles to first-rate medical care can simultaneously enhance the quality of care and improve professional satisfaction among physicians. The AMA is committed to leading a national dialog regarding the major factors driving many physicians to feel increasingly disconnected from what really matters -- their patients,” said Dr. Ardis Dee Hoven, AMA president.

Other findings from the study found that doctors described rules and regulations as being a source of stress and key factors, such as fairness and respect, affected their level of job satisfaction. “Many things affect physician professional satisfaction, but a common theme is that physicians describe feeling stressed and unhappy when they see barriers preventing them from providing quality care. If their perceptions about quality are correct, then solving these problems will be good for both patients and physicians,” said Dr. Friedberg. The researchers derived to a conclusion that doctors who thought of themselves as offering high-quality patient care or thought of their practices as delivering high-quality patient care, reported improved levels of overall job satisfaction. The recommendations, made as a result of the data gathered from the study, were the following:

  • When partnering up with larger hospitals and healthcare systems, practices should pay close attention to doctors’ job satisfaction as a means to improving patient care and health outcomes;
  • When creating new or altered payment policies, fairness among doctors’ incomes need to be taken into account as they will affect doctors’ job satisfaction;
  • Practices need to be more aware of internal and external factors for improvement of professional satisfaction;
  • Better use of electronic health records should be made a priority among the healthcare industry;
  • Lowering the extremity of medical guidelines can help improve levels of job satisfaction among doctors and enhance their abilities to concentrate on providing quality care to their patients;

Another job satisfaction survey aimed to assess the impact of satisfaction on physician burnout rates. The survey, involving the participation of over 17,000 doctors, revealed that more than 50% reported to feeling burned out. While data found that fewer younger doctors reported such feelings of burnout, older doctors experiencing a reduced level of job satisfaction seemed to have greater consequences, such as retirement and seeking other forms of employment. Yet, as the authors noted, the same data revealed that the other 50% of doctors’ plan to continue on their medical paths. “Many physicians are dissatisfied with the current state of the medical practice environment and they are opting out of traditional patient care roles. The implications of evolving physician practice patterns for both patient access and the implementation of healthcare reform are profound,” said Walker Ray, president of The Physicians Foundation.

In your line of work, being a healthcare professional, job satisfaction for you may depend on many things – size of your practice, ownership of your practice, location, relationships with fellow staff members, work-life balance, etc. So, it there a secret formula to increasing job satisfaction? Is it difficult to come by? No matter what line of work you are involved in, there are 7 main points when it comes to building job satisfaction:

1. Being self-aware – You should be fully aware whether or not you are satisfied in your line of work. If you are not aware, you will not be able to work towards changing for the better;
2. Having variety – Having enough variety in your everyday tasks will help you to remain productive and constantly motivated in your job;
3. Challenging yourself – It is good to challenge yourself from time to time and learn new things that will help you advance in your career and grow as a professional;
4. Knowing your options – It is important that you know and understand the options available to you in line of work so that you can seek career development opportunities;
5. Having a positive attitude – Staying positive while performing your daily duties and responsibilities as a doctor can be challenging as stress is inevitable in every line of work; however, it is also a sign that you are content with your job;
6. Establishing a sense of purpose – Is your line of work fulfilling and rewarding? Are you helping others? If you can connect yourself to your work, you can establish a meaningful sense of purpose;
7. Striving towards a work-life balance – It is vital that you know how to keep your work and home life separate from one another. Remember that work is work and home is home – your profession should merely support your lifestyle.

Satisfaction is important in any line of work in order to remain productive and content. If you are not satisfied with your job, it will not only affect your productivity, it will also affect your overall attitude towards life. As a doctor, your level of productivity is vital because it impacts your deliverance of quality care to your patients. If your job is not meeting your basic needs, you will not be able to meet the individual needs and preferences of your patients. Therefore, in order to ensure that you are satisfied with your job, you should be self-aware, have variety, challenge yourself, know your options, have a positive attitude, establish a sense of purpose, and strive towards a work-life balance. Understanding these key points will help you to feel more connected to your job and to be able to make necessary changes to feel more satisfied with the work that you do. By taking better control, you can have a medical career that is fulfilling and rewarding from now until the day that you choose to retire. As Confucius once said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

Key Takeaways

  • Delivering high-quality care is one of the main drivers of job satisfaction among doctors.
  • Most doctors reported than EHRs helped improve overall job satisfaction.
  • A survey of almost 20,000 doctors revealed that over half of them were suffering from burnout.