Background: Predicted shortages in the supply of neurologists may limit patients' access to and quality of care for neurological disorders. Retaining neurologists already in practice provides one opportunity to support the overall supply of practicing neurologists. Understanding factors associated with professional life satisfaction (and dissatisfaction) and implementing policies to enhance satisfaction may encourage neurologists to remain in clinical practice. In this paper, we present results from the first study examining factors associated with professional life satisfaction among a large sample of U.S, neurologists.
Methods: We collaborated with the AAN to survey a sample of U.S. neurologists about their professional life satisfaction. Analyses examined the association of physician and practice characteristics with aspects of professional life satisfaction, including satisfaction with their career in medicine, medical specialty, current position, relationship with colleagues, relationship with patients, work/life balance, and pay.
Results: The study population consisted of 625 neurologists. In multivariate regression analyses, no single group or population stratum indicated high (or low) responses to all aspects of satisfaction. Older neurologists reported higher satisfaction with career, specialty, and relationship with patients than younger neurologists. Female neurologists had significantly lower satisfaction with pay than male neurologists. Neurologists who spent more time in research and teaching had greater satisfaction with specialty, relationship with colleagues, and relationship with patients than those spending no time in research. Neurologists who practiced in small cities/rural areas reported lower satisfaction across multiple dimensions than those practicing in large urban areas. Neurologists in solo practice had greater satisfaction with the relationship with their patients, but lower satisfaction with pay.
Conclusions: Satisfaction is a multidimensional construct that is associated with physician and practice characteristics. Enhancing professional life satisfaction among neurologists requires multiple strategies, such as promoting comparable wages for men and women, providing collaboration and research opportunities, and providing resources for small and rural practices.