Most New Pediatricians Happy With First Job Choice

Diedtra Henderson

March 23, 2015

Most general pediatricians said lifestyle and family considerations influenced their first job choice, and 83% said the time allocated for specific duties in their current position was compatible with their career goals, according to a survey.

Gary L. Freed, MD, MPH, from the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit, Division of General Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases, and Department of Health Management and Policy, School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and colleagues published their findings online March 23 in Pediatrics.

General pediatricians make up the largest segment of practicing pediatricians in the nation: up to 50% of new residency graduates enter the practice annually, note Dr Freed and colleagues.

Amid concerns about a mismatch between young general pediatricians' short- and long-term career goals and desired work responsibilities and the available jobs, the research team surveyed all 5210 clinicians who sat for the General Pediatrics Certifying Examination in 2012.

Of those clinicians, 5163 participants (>99%) completed the structured survey. Nearly half of the respondents (45%) identified themselves as general pediatricians. Among general pediatricians,1365 59% had been out of residency for less than 2 years.

Among those, 1190 (87%) were engaged in direct or consultative pediatric care. Within this group, 66% said lifestyle and family considerations were the most important factors in choosing their first position after completing training. Eighty-three percent said they spent their work time in the way they wanted, with the bulk (90%) of their work time spent on direct or consultative care, 5% spent on medical education, and 1% devoted to administrative tasks. Ninety percent of patient care was in the general outpatient setting, and 5% inpatient.

"This information is important for ensuring that a new generation of pediatricians has the potential for job and career satisfaction as the roles of general pediatricians are changing with regard to the mix of inpatient and outpatient care," Dr Freed and coauthors write. "We found that most (>80%) had success in this regard."

The 17% who reported less-than-ideal current duties said they would prefer to spend 70% of their time on patient care, 15% in medical education, 5% on administrative duties, and 5% conducting research.

Roughly one third of respondents, 34%, thought they would remain in their current position for 1 to 5 years, and 33% thought they would remain more than 5 years. More women (26%) than men (5%) envisioned working part-time exclusively during the next 5 years.

The starkest contrast between women and men, the researchers note, regarded part-time employment. As 16% of "part-time" pediatricians worked more than 40 hours per week, the authors called for special attention to be paid to the issue to avoid "dissatisfaction" and to ensure "gender fairness and equity" within the workplace.

"Despite concerns about young pediatricians being able to find positions that meet their career goals, most general pediatricians sitting for their GPCE [General Pediatrics Certifying Examination] were in jobs that at least approximated their desired allocation of professional time and their desired focus of clinical work," the authors conclude. "The aim for an almost exclusive focus by these general pediatricians on outpatient care is an important trend for the profession."

Financial support for the study was provided by the American Board of Pediatrics Foundation. The authors have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

Pediatrics. Published online March 23, 2015. Abstract

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