Increasing levels of burnout among trainees and faculty members at all levels is a
major problem in academic medicine. Junior faculty members may be at unique risk for
burnout and have unique needs and barriers that contribute to attrition, job satisfaction,
and overall workplace well-being.
Twenty-seven faculty members at the assistant professor level at a large, quaternary
referral academic medical institution were interviewed. A qualitative analyst with
no reporting relationship to faculty was used as the proctor. Seven scripted questions
targeting faculty well-being and institutional barriers to well-being were administered,
and the responses were coded for common themes between respondents.
Respondents most commonly identified clinical work (26%), research (19%), and teaching
(19%) as the best aspects of their job. Among respondents, 3% stated they were not
able to devote as much time as they would like to work they enjoyed and found most
meaningful. Of these respondents, 44% cited “insufficient help” as the root cause.
Also, 33% stated time spent writing and managing institutional review board requirements
was a major contributor, and 22% cited both clinical volume/performance benchmarks
and administrative responsibilities as significant barriers. The most common responses
to departmental factors that can be improved included moving meetings to during the
workday versus after hours, establishing a similar value system/metric for all faculty,
and providing more opportunities to interact with faculty across divisions. The most
common barriers to change identified were difficulty hiring research support, patient
volume and clinical demands, and a pervasive culture of continuing to work after the
workday has ended. At an institutional level, provision of childcare and promotion
of basic science research were identified as areas for improvement. More actionable
items were identified at the departmental rather than institutional level (53 vs 34).
Junior faculty well-being is most affected at the department level. Qualitative data
collection from junior faculty regarding barriers to well-being and academic/clinical
productivity can be invaluable for departments and institutions seeking to make cultural
or systemic improvements.