GPs' job satisfaction: doctors who chose general practice early or late.
Lambert T., Smith F., Goldacre M.
BACKGROUND: In the UK many practising GPs did not choose general practice as their first choice of career when they originally graduated as doctors. AIM: To compare job satisfaction of GPs who chose general practice early or later in their career. DESIGN AND SETTING: Questionnaires were sent to all UK-trained doctors who graduated in selected years between 1993 and 2000. METHOD: Questionnaires were sent to the doctors 1, 3, 7 and 10 years after graduation. RESULTS: Of all 3082 responders working in general practice in years 7 and 10, 38% had first specified general practice as their preferred career when responding 1 year after graduation, 19% by year 3, 21% by year 5, and 22% after year 5. Job satisfaction was high and, generally, there was little difference between the first three groups (although, when different, the most positive responses were from the earliest choosers); but there were slightly lower levels of job satisfaction in the 'more than 5 years' group. For example, in response to the statement 'I find enjoyment in my current post', the percentages agreeing in the four groups, respectively, were 91.5%, 91.1%, 91.0% and 88.2%. In response to 'I am doing interesting and challenging work' the respective percentages were 90.2%, 88.0%, 86.6% and 82.6%. CONCLUSIONS: Job satisfaction levels were generally high among the late choosers as well as the early choosers. On this evidence, most doctors who turn to general practice, after preferring another specialty in their early career, are likely to have a satisfying career.