Safety-net providers report decreasing job satisfaction

Female nurse looking stressed
Physician and staff satisfaction is a challenge in hectic clinical settings. (Getty/gpointstudio)

Job satisfaction is dropping among clinicians and staff members at safety-net clinics, according to a new study.

Researchers at RAND Corporation analyzed data from 296 federally qualified health centers and found notable declines across a number of workplace satisfaction and culture measures, according to the study published in Health Affairs.

The study team conducted two surveys with staff at these institutions to determine the change in these measures, the first between April and August 2013 and the follow-up between June and October 2014. Job satisfaction declined from 82% to 74% and burnout rates increased from 23% to 31% in that window.

The number of respondents who said they would likely leave their jobs also increased, from 29% to 30%. Respondents also reported more-harried work environments; the percent saying they work in a hectic practice jumped from 32% to 40% between the two surveys.

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The researchers didn’t determine which factors contribute specifically to decreased job satisfaction and named that as a subject for further study. But the results, they said, show that job satisfaction and workplace culture often fluctuate together.

The findings are in line with previous reports documenting physician burnout across the nation. Factors that could impact safety-net providers include adoption of electronic health records—which can distract from face-to-face time with patients—and the fact that many of the participants in CMS’ demonstration were simultaneously trying to become patient-centered medical homes.

“This is more evidence that we are in a challenging time for healthcare providers and their staffs,” Mark Friedberg, M.D., lead author of the study and a senior physician scientist at RAND, said in the announcement. “Our findings show that the job stress documented in other settings extends to federally qualified health centers as well.”

Physician burnout is on the rise across the country, and triggering factors include administrative burdens and poor work environment.