HEALTH NEWS

Feeling The 'Call' To Help Others Boosts Doctors' Career Satisfaction: Study

09/20/2012 11:49 pm ET

Doctors who really believe in the core mission of their profession -- a calling to help others -- are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs, particularly when caring for people who are obese or dependent on alcohol or nicotine, a new study in the Archives of Internal Medicine suggests.

"For physicians, it may be that having a sense of calling to pursue personally fulfilling or socially significant work provides a strong enough motivator to persevere even in the face of challenges that can lead to burnout and job dissatisfaction," study researcher Dr. John D. Yoon, M.D., of the University of Chicago Section of Hospital Medicine and the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics, told American Medical News.

Yoon and his colleagues used information from 1,504 primary care doctors, who were asked about how satisfied they were in treating patients who were obese or who were dependent on alcohol or nicotine. They were also asked about how much they thought those patients were responsible for their own conditions, how satisfied they were with their career choices, and whether they believed their profession was a calling.

62 percent of doctors said they were satisfied when they were treating patients who were dependent on nicotine, while 57 percent said they were satisfied when they were treating patients who were obese and 50 percent said they were satisfied when they were treating patients who were dependent on alcohol.

The researchers found that doctors who said that they believed their profession to be a calling were more likely to be satisfied at treating these three conditions.

The researchers "picked three of the conditions most difficult to move the needle on," Fred Ralston Jr., the past president of the American College of Physicians, who was not a part of the study, told American Medical News. "Most doctors would say it is easier to lower blood pressure, cholesterol or treat simple diabetes, for example."

Back in 2009, a survey conducted by the Center for Studying Health System Change revealed that career satisfaction is experienced by four out of five doctors, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Particularly, 88 percent of doctors working in pediatrics said they were satisfied, and doctors who made $250,000 each year were very likely to say they were very satisfied, the Wall Street Journal reported.

On the other hand, a recent study in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed that nearly half of doctors exhibit at least one sign of burnout. Specifically, nearly 38 percent said that they were extremely emotionally exhausted, and nearly 30 percent said that they had "high depersonalization" (where you feel like you're just watching yourself in a dream-like manner go through your daily actions).

But doctors aren't the only ones who feel the strain from work. We all experience the negative effects of being overworked and overtired -- click through the slideshow for some ways work can be detrimental to our health:

How Work Hurts Your Health
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