COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

Job satisfaction among obstetrician-gynecologists: a comparison between private practice physicians and academic physicians

Darrel J Bell, Jay Bringman, Andrew Bush, Owen P Phillips
American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 2006, 195 (5): 1474-8
16996467

OBJECTIVE: Physician job satisfaction has been the subject of much research. However, no studies have been conducted comparing academic and private practice physician satisfaction in obstetrics and gynecology. This study was undertaken to measure satisfaction levels for academic and private practice obstetrician-gynecologists and compare different aspects of their practice that contributed to their satisfaction.

STUDY DESIGN: A survey was mailed to randomly selected obstetrician-gynecologists in Memphis, TN; Birmingham, AL; Little Rock, AR; and Jackson, MS. Physicians were asked to respond to questions concerning demographics and career satisfaction. They were also asked to assess the contribution of 13 different aspects of their practice in contributing to their job selection and satisfaction using a Likert scale. A score of 1 meant the physician completely disagreed with a statement regarding a factor's contribution or was completely dissatisfied; a score of 5 meant the physician completely agreed with a factor's contribution or was completely satisfied. Simple descriptive statistics, as well as the 2-sample t test, were used. Likert scale values were assumed to be interval measurements.

RESULTS: Of the 297 questionnaires mailed, 129 (43%) physicians responded. Ninety-five (74%) respondents rated their overall satisfaction as 4 or 5. No significant difference was found between academic and private physicians when comparing overall job satisfaction (P = .25). When compared to private practice physicians, the aspects most likely contributing to overall job satisfaction for academic physicians were the ability to teach, conduct research, and practice variety (P = .0001, P = .0001, and P = .007, respectively). When compared with academic physicians, the aspects most likely contributing to job satisfaction for private practice physicians were autonomy, physician-patient relationship, and insurance reimbursement (P = .0058, P = .0001, and P = .0098, respectively). When choosing a practice setting, academic physicians found variety, teaching, and research to be more important (P = .0027, P = .0001, and P = .0001, respectively). In contrast, private practice physicians found autonomy, physician-patient relationship, coworkers, and geographic location to be more important (P = .0005, P = .0001, P = .0035, and P = .0016, respectively).

CONCLUSION: Academic and private practice physicians are equally satisfied with their careers. However, teaching, research and variety contribute more to academic satisfaction, whereas autonomy, physician-patient relationship, and coworkers contribute more to satisfaction for the physician in private practice. This study may be used when counseling residents concerning their career options.

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