The Happiness Factor


HM groups are built—in part—on the theory of work-life balance. But what about work-work balance?

A study published this spring found that faculty physicians at academic medical centers might be more satisfied if they spend at least one day per week on the part of their job that is most meaningful to them (Arch Intern Med, 2009;169(10):990-995).

“The notion of ‘job fit’ is clearly important,” says Noah Harris, MD, FHM, a hospitalist at Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque, N.M., and a member of SHM’s Career Satisfaction Task Force. “Since most physicians are drawn to medicine for the notion of patient care, the other activities may be troublesome for many of us.”

To improve employees’ job satisfaction, Dr. Harris and Chad Whelan, MD, FHM, chair of SHM’s career task force, suggest HM leaders do the following:

  • Understand what your group has to offer. Let physicians explore parts of the practice unfamiliar to them—and if they find something they have a passion for, encourage it.
  • Identify hospitalists who are at risk for burnout and guide them to potential opportunities. Be proactive before dissatisfaction sets in.
  • Don’t push people into leadership roles they don’t want. Some people want clinical posts, while others want to be medical directors who meet with administration daily.
  • Recognize the importance of flexibility. As HM groups evolve, there are chances to offer new schedules or build in new clinical and nonclinical initiatives.
  • Support staff members via mentoring and professional development to make them feel as if they’re doing work they want to do.

“A common mistake, though, is to simply pay people a stipend for doing more,” says Dr. Whelan, associate professor of medicine and director of the division of hospital medicine at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. “If their professional time is already fully taken with other activities, a stipend will not provide time to appropriately pursue those meaningful activities.”

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