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Determinants and barriers to junior faculty well-being at a large quaternary academic medical center: A qualitative survey

Published:November 01, 2022DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.surg.2022.09.024

      Abstract

      Background

      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.

      Methods

      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.

      Results

      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).

      Conclusions

      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.
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