Satisfaction with career choice among U.S. plastic surgeons: results from a national survey

Rachel Streu, Sarah Hawley, Ashley Gay, Barbara Salem, Paul Abrahamse, Amy K Alderman
Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 2010, 126 (2): 636-42

BACKGROUND: The authors' purpose was to describe patterns and correlates of satisfaction with career choice among U.S. plastic surgeons.

METHODS: A mailed, self-administered survey was sent to 708 U.S. plastic surgeons who were randomly sampled from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons registry (71 percent response rate, n = 505). The dependent variable was satisfaction with the decision to become a plastic surgeon, which was created from a scale of four validated questions measuring decisional satisfaction and decisional regret. The independent variables included surgeon and practice characteristics. Logistic regression was used to evaluate associations between satisfaction with the decision to become a plastic surgeon and independent factors.

RESULTS: Few respondents (4 percent) regretted becoming plastic surgeons. Factors independently associated with greater satisfaction with the decision to become a plastic surgeon included group practice compared with solo practice (odds ratio, 1.65; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.0 to 2.71), resident educator (odds ratio, 1.88; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.06 to 3.31), and a highly cosmetic practice mix: primarily cosmetic versus primarily reconstructive (odds ratio, 2.42; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.25 to 4.66) and mixed versus primarily reconstructive (odds ratio, 1.59, 95 percent confidence interval, 0.92 to 2.76). Demographic factors such as age and gender were not associated with surgeon satisfaction.

CONCLUSIONS: Overall, the majority of plastic surgeons are satisfied with their career choice despite the current health care and economic environment. Factors significantly associated with greater satisfaction with career choice included group practice, involvement in resident education, and a highly elective cosmetic practice.

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