Physicians’ levels of burnout shape the trajectory of their professional development, ultimately affecting their career resilience. Burnout poses a challenge to long‐term career resilience by preventing physicians from responding to their intrinsic motivations. However, having a sense of calling in one's practice may sustain one's career, even in the face of obstacles like burnout.
In 2009–2010, we used the AMA Masterfile to survey a nationally representative sample of 1504 U.S. physicians reporting only a primary board specialty of internal medicine, family medicine, or general practice and no secondary specialty. Primary dependent variables included physicians’ levels of career satisfaction, job morale, as well as intentions to reduce time spent in direct patient care or leave the practice of medicine in the next 3 years. Independent variables included physicians’ level of burnout and sense of calling as assessed by single‐item measures utilized in previous national studies. For example, burned‐out physicians marked statements such as “I have one or more symptoms of burnout, such as physical or emotional exhaustion.” Physicians with a sense of calling agreed with the statement “For me, the practice of medicine is a calling.” We also included other demographic and work‐related variables in our multivariate logistic regression models.
Eight hundred and ninety‐six of 1427 eligible physicians responded (63%). Sixteen percent of our respondent pool identified themselves as hospitalists (n = 142). The majority of hospitalists were somewhat satisfied (49%) or very satisfied (36%) with their overall career in medicine. Twenty‐four percent of hospitalists regretted choosing medicine as a career, 38% wanted a different clinical specialty, 36% intended to reduce time spent in patient care, whereas 14% of hospitalists intended to leave the practice of medicine within 3 years. Compared with primary care physicians who work >20 hours/week, hospitalists were less likely to report burnout [18% vs. 27% of primary care providers (PCPs), P = 0.01] and less likely to report intentions to reduce time spent in direct patient care (36% vs. 48% of PCPs, P = 0.005). Burned‐out physicians were more likely to report regretting choosing medicine as a career [multi‐variate OR, 2.3 (1.6–3.7)]. Even among burned‐out physicians, those with a sense of calling were less likely to regret choosing medicine as a career [multivariate OR, 0.3 (0.1–0.6)].
Hospitalists and primary care physicians who report burnout are more likely to regret choosing medicine as a career, want a different clinical specialty, intend to see fewer patients, and intend to leave the practice of medicine within 3 years. Having a sense of calling in one's practice may promote career resilience in medicine, even among those who experience symptoms of burnout.
J. Yoon ‐ none; A. Miller ‐ none; K. Rasinski ‐ none; F. Curlin ‐ none