Cut the workplace chaos, return joy to medical practice

Female nurse looking stressed
Practices can increase physician job satisfaction with a better work environment. (Getty/gpointstudio)

The work environment makes a big difference in whether doctors find joy in their work, according to a new study.

Job satisfaction or joy in practice was linked to both structural and cultural aspects of the work environment, researchers said in a new study published in Health Affairs.

What makes for a good work environment? Slower paced, less chaotic workplaces were far more satisfying to work in, as were practices with the following traits: cohesion, good communication, high clinician trust in the organization and a high alignment of values between clinicians and leaders, researchers found.

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The prospective study of 168 physicians and advanced practice providers in 34 medical practices shows that if organizations want to promote clinician job satisfaction, reduce burnout and increase the likelihood clinicians will stay in the job, those cultural factors may be critical areas for quality improvement, researchers said.

The researchers used data from the Healthy Work Place trial and data collected from the clinicians at baseline and approximately one year later. At the start of the study, 74% of clinicians said they were satisfied with their jobs. Satisfaction did not correlate to higher quality care or fewer medical errors, the study found.

In the follow-up, the 16% of clinicians who indicated increased satisfaction were almost three times more likely to report improvement in scores measuring burnout and more than eight times as likely to indicate reduced intention to leave their practices, compared to clinicians whose job satisfaction did not increase.

Experts also say healthcare organizations should invest in physician well-being and satisfaction because burnout has a heavy economic cost, including staff turnover and lost revenue from decreased productivity.

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