Docs happier when they can do what they want to do

If teaching hospitals want to keep their doctors from leaving, they should consider personalizing the mix of clinical, teaching, research and administrative responsibilities for each faculty member, a survey by the University of Virginia School of Medicine found.

Researchers looked at data from the 2011-12 Faculty Forward Engagement Survey and found no link between time clinicians spent on patient care and their intent to leave their hospital positions, the university said in an announcement describing the study. 

But there was a link between the time spent teaching, conducting research, caring for patients and administrative duties, and how doctors "felt about how much time they spent in each area," researcher Susan M. Pollart, M.D., said in the announcement.

Academic hospitals need to understand that different doctors have different interests and priorities, Pollart said, and must ask them during annual reviews whether they're spending the right amount of time in the four major areas of responsibility.

It was unclear whether adjusting the mix would reduce the number of doctors who leave, Pollart said. But "it's possible that just asking the question will reduce the number of people who leave," she said.

The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center is among the teaching hospitals struggling with physician engagement and retention. A recent physician survey found massive dissatisfaction with executive leadership and changes intended to address long-standing faculty complaints. Chief among them: Expectations for clinical workload.

Some residents aren't too happy with working conditions either--at least according to a recent opinion piece contending that teaching hospitals treat residents as a source of revenue while paying today's first-year residents less money than their elders made in 1974 for the same 80-hour weeks.

For more information:
- here's the announcement
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