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Job Satisfaction in an Academic Medical Center: is there a Gender Difference?
Jennifer Waljee, MD, Kevin Chung, MD, MS.
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.

PURPOSE: Nationally, interest in academic medicine is waning among recent physician graduates, and projected shortages in the physician workforce will hinder academic medical centers in the future. Faculty attrition rates remain high, and it is expensive to replace faculty members who propel medical innovation. Although women comprise approximately 50% of students entering medical school, they are underrepresented in leadership positions, less likely to achieve promotion, and more likely to leave academic medicine. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to define aspects of academic practice that correlate with job satisfaction by gender.

METHODS:A 47-item survey regarding occupational satisfaction was distributed in to 1,898 academic faculty members at a single institution using an anonymous, web-based approach (response rate =47%). Faculty members were queried regarding 9 aspects of employment satisfaction on a scale of 1 (low) to 7 (high) including: departmental leadership, clinical support, research support, interpersonal relationships, teaching support, mentorship, work-life balance, promotion, and compensation. Faculty were also asked to rate their overall satisfaction, desire to stay in academia, and desire to stay at the institution along a similar scale. Mann-Whitney U tests were used to identify univariate relationships between distinct aspects of job satisfaction and overall satisfaction, desire to leave academia, or to leave the institution by gender. Ordinal logistic regression was performed to identify gender differences in each aspect of occupational satisfaction and the outcome variables.

RESULTS: In this sample of academic medical school faculty, female faculty were less satisfied with their position (females: 5.33±1.35 vs. males: 5.54±1.35, p<0.01), academia (females: 5.71±1.43 vs. 5.93±1.38, p<0.01), and the institution (females: 5.76±1.44 vs. males: 5.76±1.44 5.76±1.44, p<0.06) compared with male faculty. Additionally, women were less satisfied with specific aspects of their position including departmental leadership (females: 5.45±1.37 vs. males: 5.66±1.35, p<0.009), interpersonal relationships (females: 5.17±0.70 vs. males: 5.27±0.72 p<0.001), research support (females: 4.75±1.18 vs. males: 4.98±1.17 p<0.005), balance (females: 4.72±1.21 vs. males: 5.02±1.26 p<0.001), promotion (females: 5.02±1.37 vs. males: 5.25±1.32p<0.002), and mentorship (females: 4.91±1.42 vs. males: 5.25±1.49 p<0.001) (Figure 1.) Female faculty cited departmental leadership (OR: 2.41, 95%CI: 1.58 - 3.70), balance (OR: 2.93; 95%CI: 1.77 - 4.84), and mentorship (OR: 1.70; 95%CI: 1.15 - 2.52) as important determinants of satisfaction. Similarly, male faculty reported departmental leadership (OR: 1.61; 95%CI: 1.28 - 2.02) and balance (3.90 95% CI: 2.80 - 5.43) as determinants of satisfaction, but also reported compensation (OR: 1.21; 95%CI: 1.02 - 1.42), and interpersonal relationships (OR 2.31; 95% CI: 1.54 - 3.44) were important factors.

CONCLUSION: Female faculty are less likely to be satisfied in academic medicine due to dissatisfaction with departmental leadership, work-life balance, and mentorship. However, female faculty enrich education as role models and patient care as proponents of women’s health issues. In light of dwindling available research funding, reduced resident work-hours, and increasing clinical demands on academic physicians, it is essential to identify strategies that optimize the academic environment to promote gender diversity and faculty retention.

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