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Professional and Personal Changes Associated with Pediatrician Job Satisfaction, 2012-2017


Mary Pat Frintner, Laurel Leslie, Liz Gottschlich, Amy Starmer, Bill Cull

Presented at the 2019 Pediatric Academic Societies Annual Meeting.

Background: Prior studies have raised concern that physician burnout is rising.  Less attention has been given to the related concept of job satisfaction and professional and personal changes associated with such satisfaction.

Objective: Utilize the unique capabilities of longitudinal data to 1) examine the degree to which job satisfaction changes over time and 2) identify professional or personal changes in pediatricians that are associated with job satisfaction.

Methods: Data from a cohort study, the AAP Pediatrician Life and Career Experience Study (PLACES), were used to examine self-reported job satisfaction from 2012 to 2017 among 2002-2004 and 2009-2011 residency graduates (N = 1766).  Participation rates ranged from 94% in 2012 to 83% in 2017.  Drawing from the Physician Work-Life Study, job satisfaction was measured as a 4-item scale score and averaged (range 1-5).  Repeated-measures ANOVA examined trends in overall scores.  Mixed-effects linear regression for longitudinal analysis examined job satisfaction by variables that a) might change over time (time-variant: 9 variables – see table) and b) do not change over time (time-invariant: 4 variables - gender, age cohort, medical school location, and subspecialty trained).  The model assessed how changes in work or personal life might be linked to increased or decreased satisfaction.

Results: In 2017, nearly 9 in 10 pediatricians reported their work was personally rewarding (Figure). The overall mean job satisfaction scale score decreased slightly over time: 3.80 in 2012, 3.79 in 2013, 3.78 in 2014, 3.73 in 2015, 3.69 in 2016, and  3.74 in 2017, p<.001. 

The mixed effects model identified several changes associated with higher pediatrician job satisfaction.  The largest associations with increased satisfaction were increased personal support from physician colleagues (B=.35, 95% CI=.31 to .39) and flexibility with work hours (B=.23, 95% CI=.20 to .26) [Table]. Pediatricians who reported increased stress balancing work and personal responsibilities had decreased satisfaction scores. 

For the time invariant variables, male gender had lower satisfaction and subspecialty trained had higher satisfaction at baseline.  No change effects were found for the time invariant variables.

Conclusion: Job satisfaction is high among early to mid-career pediatricians, with small decreases over time for the sample overall.  Pediatricians who reported an increase in flexibility with work hours and support from colleagues showed the strongest increase in job satisfaction.


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