Are You Satisfied?

Mary Jo Gorman, MD, MBA

“(I can’t get no) satisfaction.”—The Rolling Stones

Do you know people who have good health, loving families, a healthy income, and a great house but who are still not satisfied? You may also know some people who seemingly have little to be thankful for, and yet they are very satisfied. There has been a great deal of research on this topic, specifically as it relates to job or career satisfaction. Some assume that the main component of job satisfaction is how much a person is paid. In study after study, however, compensation is never first and is often fourth or lower on the list of items that people identify as the key factors related to their satisfaction. So what are the other factors?

What Stimulates You?

The nature of the work is important. People must find their work stimulating. Everyone finds stimulation at different levels—for some it may involve being technically successful, whether they are reviewing contract language or hanging crown molding. Others find performing a procedure such as a cardiac catheterization or a lumbar puncture highly energizing. Or stimulation—for the master chess player, for example—may be found strictly on a mental level. Whatever the sweet spot, it is important to identify what you find motivating and challenging.

Overstimulating situations, on the other hand, are uncomfortable and dissatisfying. Some individuals thrive in a highly stressful environment, such as air traffic control, that others would find overwhelming.

One of the unique features of being a hospitalist is the need to work collaboratively across many disciplines to achieve results for our patients. The collegiality involved in the team approach can be invigorating and satisfying to many people. For others, it is simply frustrating.

In study after study … compensation is never first and is often fourth or lower on the list of items that people identify as the key factors related to their satisfaction.

Do You Feel Appreciated?

Recognition for a job well done is something everyone needs. We see this in our co-workers and in children when they try something and are praised for it. We all need recognition for doing a good job day after day. This seemed counterintuitive to me when I first learned about it. Gee whiz, I thought, why do I have to say, “Good job,” when people are just doing what they are supposed to do? It turns out that we all need to be recognized regularly in order to feel that we are valued and needed. It keeps us interested and motivated.

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