Quality of life more important to today's physicians

September 26, 2012

Physicians-particularly younger women-are placing more importance on one specific factor more than previous generations when deciding on a job location. Discover what it is.

Quality of life outweighs career-related factors for physicians in a new study by Jackson & Coker.

The study, an update to original research performed by the physician recruitment firm in 1987, reveals new trends in why doctors choose to work where they do, as well as the development of two “clusters” of physicians.

Compared with 25 years ago, when doctors most often considered hospital facilities, potential income and their spouse’s preference when choosing a place to live and work, today’s physicians place greater emphasis on quality of life factors, according to the research. Replacing hospital facilities as the number one factor in decision-making is the overall lifestyle of the area where a job is located. Potential income remains in second place, but immediate income has moved up as a consideration, replacing spousal preference.

The study also had been updated in 2007, and although the top three considerations remain the same in 2012, doctors today placed more emphasis on fewer and/or more flexible work hours and less call rotation rather than favorable malpractice rates, as they had in 2007.

But Jackson & Coker notes that its most interesting discovery in the 2012 update is that two separate “clusters” emerged during the survey. The first cluster is more likely to be females aged 45 or fewer years who have worked for 15 or fewer years in medical practice and have a working spouse. They prefer suburban or urban locations in the Northeast and only relocated once or twice. This group most often specializes in dermatology, gynecology, infectious disease, or physical medicine and rehabilitation, according to the report.

The second group, mostly males aged at least 51 years who had been in practice for 15 years or more, prefer single-specialty practices. They either prefer rural locations or have no location preferences, according to the study. They had relocated three to six times over the course of their careers, which more often were specialized in neurology, psychiatry, or surgery.

In terms of relocation preferences, physicians in the first group base their decisions most on the overall lifestyle of an area, whereas those in the second group rank it last. In contrast, members of the second group name contact with other physicians as their most important consideration in relocation, whereas those in the first group ranked it last.

Click here for the full survey.

Look for the results of Medical Economics' 2012 Exclusive Physician Earnings Survey in the October 10, 2012, issue of Medical Economics.

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