VA Physicians Involved with Research have Higher Job Satisfaction
Research conducted in academic medical centers by active clinical physicians has led to many important advances and has generated health policy changes to improve healthcare. Moreover, research opportunities are an important characteristic in attracting and retaining skilled employees in academic and general hospital systems. This study examined whether VA physicians who were involved with research had greater job satisfaction and more positive job characteristics perceptions. Investigators identified physicians from 135 VA medical centers who responded to VA’s All Employee Survey in 2008, which was the first time a research involvement question was included. Job characteristics that were assessed included job autonomy, skill development opportunities, performance feedback, and work and family balance. Investigators examined how physicians with no research involvement (n=6,833) compared to physicians with research involvement (n=901) on workplace perceptions and satisfaction.
- VA physicians who spend part of their time involved with research activities are more likely to report favorable job characteristics ratings. They are also more likely to be satisfied with their job.
- Compared with physicians who were not involved with research activities, physicians who were involved with research activities provided higher ratings on all dimensions, the largest differences being autonomy (45% vs. 62%) and skill development opportunities (64% vs. 75%).
- For overall job satisfaction, 78% of physicians involved with research reported a favorable rating compared to 72% of physicians not involved with research.
- The organizational research funding level was significantly related to higher ratings for all job characteristics; as the level of funding increased, the estimates for favorable responses increased.
- Physicians working in VAMCs with academic affiliates reported less favorable ratings for skill development opportunities, as well as work and family balance. However, when the academic affiliate was located within walking distance, these ratings were significantly more favorable.
- Variables that were not measured (i.e., co-workers, climate and culture) may have influenced physician satisfaction.
- Using census survey data prevented flexibility and precision in asking relevant questions.
- Investigators were unable to assess the number of physicians who wanted to be involved with research but were unable to do so.
This study was funded by HSR&D (IIR 05-221). Both authors are part of HSR&D’s Center for Organization, Leadership and Management Research in Boston, MA.
Mohr D and Burgess J. Job Characteristics and Job Satisfaction among Physicians Involved with Research in the Veterans Health Administration. Academic Medicine June 20, 2011;e-pub ahead of print.