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Physician Career Choice and Satisfaction
How and why do doctors select their specialties, work settings and communities in which to practice? Do medical students know what they want to do once they finish their education? Can doctors in training be nudged toward practice in certain under-served geographic areas and in specialties facing a shortage of members? How can practice organizations that have a deficit in applicants recruit the physicians they need? How do practice characteristics differ from one specialty and work-setting to another? What features of a work-setting make for satisfaction and dissatisfaction in the different specialties and practice organizations? This book addresses those questions and others related to the distribution of physicians in the workforce using empirical data collected from physicians in practice and a large scale program intended to influence physician career choice.
Psychologist Otis’s report summarizes the results of his longitudinal study tracking how and why medical students eventually chose their career disciplines. The study, initially conducted between 1967 and 1976, ended when funding was cut. Decades later, Otis used the internet to track down many of the participants and learn where their careers had taken them. Using a variety of statistical methods, this book analyzes this data. Otis tracked trends regarding the predictive power of certain psychological profile tests with future career choices. He also studied physicians’ satisfaction with their careers, the types of practice they chose, the kinds of communities they lived in, and other factors.

The book is written as a series of related medical journal articles and is not aimed at laypeople, though the language is fluid and accessible. There are pages of tables and statistics that the average reader might find difficult to parse, along with detailed descriptions of methodology. One key finding is that while most medical students don’t know exactly what they want to specialize in, they have a good idea of what they don’t want. Another is that it’s possible to improve students’ attitudes toward working in community hospitals if they are assigned attentive mentors to provide guidance.

Observing that there are periodic shortages in certain medical specialties, Otis suggests that consortiums of schools coordinate research along the lines of his study, using their results to guide the allocation of resources and help students find the most suitable career prospects. He shares all of his testing methodology for others to use as a model. He also recommends undertaking medical research as a way to advocate for peace, but his vagueness on this issue is at odds with his otherwise rigorous approach. This study will serve anyone interested in the methods by which medical students do and should select their areas of specialty.

Takeaway: Medical students and med school administrators will dig into this study of how physicians choose their careers.

Great for fans of Brian Freeman’s The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: B
Illustrations: B
Editing: A
Marketing copy: C