World Journal of Surgery

, Volume 42, Issue 5, pp 1285–1292 | Cite as

The Physician Attrition Crisis: A Cross-Sectional Survey of the Risk Factors for Reduced Job Satisfaction Among US Surgeons

  • Theresa N. Jackson
  • Chris P. Pearcy
  • Zhamak Khorgami
  • Vaidehi Agrawal
  • Kevin E. Taubman
  • Michael S. Truitt
Original Scientific Report



A physician shortage is on the horizon, and surgeons are particularly vulnerable due to attrition. Reduced job satisfaction leads to increased job turnover and earlier retirement. The purpose of this study is to delineate the risk factors that contribute to reduced job satisfaction.


A cross-sectional survey of US surgeons was conducted from September 2016 to May 2017. Screening for job satisfaction was performed using the abridged Job in General scale. Respondents were grouped into more and less satisfied using the median split. Twenty-five potential risk factors were examined that included demographic, occupational, psychological, wellness, and work-environment variables.


Overall, 993 respondents were grouped into more satisfied (n = 502) and less satisfied (n = 491) cohorts. Of the demographic variables, female gender and younger age were associated with decreased job satisfaction (p = 0.003 and p = 0.008). Most occupational variables (specialty, experience, academics, practice size, payment model) were not significant. However, increased average hours worked correlated with less satisfaction (p = 0.008). Posttraumatic stress disorder, burnout, wellness, all eight work-environment variables, and unhappiness with career choice were linked to reduced job satisfaction (p = 0.001).


A surgeon shortage has serious implications for health care. Job satisfaction is associated with physician retention. Our results suggest women and younger surgeons may be at increased risk for job dissatisfaction. Targeted work-environment interventions to reduce work-hours, improve hospital culture, and provide adequate financial reimbursement may promote job satisfaction and wellness.



We thank Dr. Diane Jackson for her tireless support and assistance throughout this project and for her ever willingness to help even at the most inconvenient hours. Her hard work, research expertise, thoroughness, and humanitarian spirit kept us on track and humble. We thank Jake Morgan, Taylor Cook, and Kevin McLean for the hundreds of hours they provided in data collection. Without their help, this project could never have happened. Their dedication and teamwork exemplify the great doctors they are sure to become.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.


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Copyright information

© Société Internationale de Chirurgie 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Theresa N. Jackson
    • 1
  • Chris P. Pearcy
    • 2
  • Zhamak Khorgami
    • 1
  • Vaidehi Agrawal
    • 3
  • Kevin E. Taubman
    • 1
  • Michael S. Truitt
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Graduate Medical EducationUniversity of Oklahoma School of Community MedicineTulsaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Graduate Medical EducationMethodist Dallas Medical CenterDallasUSA
  3. 3.Methodist Dallas Clinical Research InstituteDallasUSA

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