Physician career satisfaction across specialties

J Paul Leigh, Richard L Kravitz, Mike Schembri, Steven J. Samuels, Shanaz Mobley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

226 Scopus citations


Background: The career satisfaction and dissatisfaction physicians experience likely influence the quality of medical care. Objective: To compare career satisfaction across specialties among US physicians. Methods: We analyzed data from the Community Tracking Study of 12474 physicians (response rate, 65%) for the late 1990s. Data are cross-sectional. Two satisfaction variables were created: very satisfied and dissatisfied. Thirty-three specialty categories were analyzed. Results: After adjusting for control variables, the following specialties are significantly more likely than family medicine to be very satisfying: geriatric internal medicine (odds ratio [OR], 2.04); neonatal-perinatal medicine (OR, 1.89); dermatology (OR, 1.48); and pediatrics (OR, 1.36). The following are significantly more likely than family medicine to be dissatisfying: otolaryngology (OR, 1.78); obstetrics-gynecology (OR, 1.61); ophthalmology (OR, 1.51); orthopedics (OR, 1.36); and internal medicine (OR, 1.22). Among the control variables, we also found nonlinear relations between age and satisfaction; high satisfaction among physicians in the west north Central and New England states and high dissatisfaction in the south Atlantic, west south Central, Mountain, and Pacific states; positive associations between income and satisfaction; and no differences between women and men. Conclusions: Career satisfaction and dissatisfaction vary across specialty as well as age, income, and region. These variations are likely to be of interest to residency directors, managed care administrators, students selecting a specialty, and physicians in the groups with high satisfaction and dissatisfaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1577-1584
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of Internal Medicine
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 22 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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