The happiest doctors are those who treat kids and those who treat old people, according to a new study from the University of California Davis’ Center for Health Policy and Research. It found the highest levels of satisfaction from pediatric emergency room doctors and geriatricians, and the lowest from neurosurgeons and — wait for it — OB/GYNS.
Those low levels of satisfaction might come from a percieved lack of autonomy, irregualr hours and a relative decline in pay, according to the researchers. But medical students tend to avoid specialities like geriatrics because of the lack of prestige and relatively lower pay. I must say I was a little surprised that pediatric ER doctors had high levels of satisfaction, having spent some time in the pediatric ER recently. When your patients are either scary-sick or screaming in pain and fear and their parents are frightened and irritable, I can’t image that would be fun.
However, the team aspect of both specialites plays a big role in the happiness of the doctors, the survey found.
But I’m not remotely surprised OB/GYNs are not so happy. They are among the most frequent targets of lawsuits, their hours are insane, and pregnant women? Not the easiest or most rational of patients. My OB loved me, but I had two easy pregnancies and mostly just was nervous and worried at the beginning and crabby as hell at the very end. The upside, of course, is that they play a very special role in people’s lives when things go well. I still smile whenever I pass my OB’s office and actually miss the people there.
Interestingly, there was no difference in satisfaction between male and female doctors, and no difference in satisfaction among races. Younger doctros, under age 44, and older doctors, over 65, tend to be more satisfied.