Background: Balancing career and family obligations poses challenges to medical school faculty and contributes to dissatisfaction and attrition from academics. We examined the relationship between family setting and responsibilities, rank, and career and work-life satisfaction for faculty in a large U.S. medical school. Methods: Baseline faculty surveys were analyzed from the first year of a 4-year National Institutes of Health-funded study to evaluate awareness, knowledge, attitudes, and use of family friendly policies and career satisfaction. The study focus was on the impact of family responsibilities and characteristics of the faculty position (rank, clinical vs. nonclinical, and academic series) in multivariate comparisons between primary predictors and outcomes of interest. Results: Both clinical and family responsibilities for children under 18 play a major and interacting role in satisfaction with career and work-life balance. Clinical faculty respondents without children at home reported significantly greater career satisfaction and better work-life balance than their nonclinical counterparts. Nonclinical faculty respondents with children reported greater satisfaction and better balance than counterparts without family responsibilities. However, the advantage in career satisfaction and work-life balance for clinical faculty respondents disappeared for those with responsibility for young children. No gender-based differences were noted in the results or across faculty rank for respondents; however, for women, reaching associate professor resulted in greater career satisfaction. Conclusion: This study suggests that both work-related factors and family responsibilities influence satisfaction with career and work-life balance, but the predictors appear to interact in complex and nuanced ways. Further research is needed to delineate more clearly these interactions and to explore other factors that may play important additional roles.
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