Job satisfaction among senior doctors generally high

September 26, 2002

Levels of job satisfaction among senior doctors have been generally high, but many do not plan to work to the age of 65, finds a study in this week's BMJ.

All traceable 1974 UK medical school graduates were sent questionnaires about their employment history, current job satisfaction, and plans for the future. Some 97% of those who responded were in medical employment and 85% worked in the NHS.

Overall, job satisfaction was rated reasonably highly, but there were significant differences between occupational groups, with hospital doctors reporting greater satisfaction than GPs. Among GPs, women were more satisfied than men and part-timers were more satisfied than those working full-time.

86% of NHS hospital doctors and 78% of GPs said they definitely intended to continue working for at least another five years. Reasons given for considering leaving medicine included disillusionment with the NHS, work-related stress, and the desire to work in a developing country.

The results demonstrate the extent to which the medical workforce has changed. In 1974 only a quarter of graduates were female and women were less likely than men to become consultants. The majority of medical school entrants are now female and in the future many more senior posts will be filled by women.

The study concludes that senior doctors have been committed to the NHS and generally satisfied with their work. Nevertheless, many of the respondents commented that their work was close to the limit of what they considered acceptable, and said that they would retire before the age of 65.


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