Between Balance and Burnout: Contrasting the Working-Time Conditions of Irish-Trained Hospital Doctors in Ireland and Australia

Part of the Aligning Perspectives on Health, Safety and Well-Being book series (AHSW)


Health systems internationally are contending with medical workforce crises characterised by high rates of burnout and turnover intention. Research from Ireland has shown how excessive work demands challenge the working lives of hospital doctors, who often find themselves having to choose between remaining in a health system under strain (risking burnout) or emigrating to seek more balanced work-life conditions. Drawing on semi-structured interviews with 51 Irish-trained doctors who have emigrated to work in Australia, the chapter contrasts their experience of work-time in Ireland and Australia. Using a psychosocial work environment (PWE) lens, we highlight the four features of work-time which participants drew on to contrast their experiences: the quantity of work hours, the quality of work and non-work time, the predictability of work-time, and employment flexibility. Work-time in Ireland was characterised by conditions associated with burnout (intensity, extended hours, unpredictability, work-life conflict), whereas work-time in Australia was typified by conditions relating to balance (bounded and predictable hours, moderated work intensity, flexibility). The chapter presents a theoretical framework which delineates these temporal conditions of balance and burnout, illustrating how they are generated by institutional and organisational contexts, and are critical in shaping the working lives and well-being of hospital doctors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Royal College of Physicians of IrelandDublinIreland
  2. 2.DCU Business SchoolDublinIreland
  3. 3.Cardiff Business SchoolCardiff UniversityUK
  4. 4.Dublin City UniversityDublinIreland

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