Survey: Work/life balance is #1 priority in physicians’ job search

CHG Healthcare recently surveyed 145 physicians who had been out of residency for two to three years about their first job search and current level of career satisfaction. The survey found that work/life balance was the most important factor for physicians in choosing their first job.

This finding confirms the results of a 2018 survey of physicians just out of residency conducted by CHG’s CompHealth division. However, while work/life balance was still the number one factor in 2018 (63%), in 2022, that number jumped to 85%. This increase is significant but not surprising when compared to similar surveys that have found physicians’ attitudes toward the importance of wellness and work/life balance are changing in the wake of the pandemic.

Compensation remained in fifth place but jumped in importance from 49% in 2018 to 77% in 2022 as a job search factor.

a graph showing important factors in job selection. work/life balance is the top with 85 percent

Confidence during first job search

The survey also found that most physicians (57%) did not feel highly confident in the search for their first job out of residency and that most (66%) were actively searching for jobs during residency.

first of two graphs; explanation in second graph's alternate text

2 graphs showing confidence during first job search, and time period of first job search

Helpfulness of residency programs

When asked if their residency programs were helpful in the search for their first jobs, most physicians surveyed said that their residency programs were not very helpful (68%).

a graph of responses on how helpful residency programs are in the first job search. 68 percent said they weren't very helpful

This doesn’t mean that residency programs didn’t offer some job search help. 42% offered CV assistance and 28% offered networking events and helped with finding local jobs or fellowships. However, the areas where physicians desired more assistance were in negotiating contracts and compensation.

a graph comparing the areas in which residency programs gave assistance, compared to the areas physicians would have liked more assistance

First job satisfaction

Even without the level of job search assistance physicians may have wanted, most physicians (70%) were happy with their first jobs out of residency. This is a 5% increase from the 2018 survey where 65% reported being satisfied with their position.

graph showing satisfaction with first employment contract. most were satisfied, only a few dissatisfied

While most physicians are happy with their first jobs, the survey data suggests that health systems that want to attract top talent should offer roles with an attractive work/life balance.

While this increase in the relative importance of work/life balance could be attributed to the stress of the pandemic, it may also signal a change in the healthcare workforce. Early career physicians in 2022 may value personal and family time more and be less willing to sacrifice those priorities than previous generations.

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