Do We Need to Develop & Sustain Initiatives that improve Military Career Satisfaction & Retention of Medical Corps Officers?

Research Paper TItle

Army Physician Career Satisfaction Based on a Medical Corps Survey.

Background

It is critical the U.S. Army retains skilled physicians in the Medical Corps (MC) to ensure direct support to military operations and medical readiness.

The purpose of this study was to examine US Army physicians’ opinions concerning: readiness to perform required duties, work environment, support and recognition they receive, military career intentions, and how these factors may relate to Army physician job satisfaction.

Methods

A cross-sectional study of Army physicians was conducted using a 45-item web-based survey tool, “Army Medicine Medical Corps (MC) Engagement/Satisfaction Survey 2018.”

The survey used a combination of multiple choice (Likert-scaled and categorical) and open text statements and questions.

Satisfaction with their Army physician career was measured using a 5-point unipolar Likert scale response on level of satisfaction. Chi-square tests of independence were conducted on all demographic characteristics to examine if levels of satisfaction with Army physician career were associated with a particular demographic profile.

Agreement opinions expressed on 20 statements about professional readiness, work environment, and job recognition were summarised and rank-ordered by percentage of “strongly agree” responses.

Categorical responses to several questions related to career intentions were summarised overall and by career satisfaction level. Multivariate logistic regression was performed to identify demographic factors, which may influence career satisfaction as an Army physician.

Results

Approximately 47% (2,050/4,334) of U.S. Army physicians participated in the MC 2018 survey.

Career satisfaction percentages overall were: “extremely satisfied” (10.0%), “quite satisfied” (24.8%), “moderately satisfied” (33.9%), “slightly satisfied” (22.6%), and “not at all satisfied” (8.3%).

Respondents were in least agreement to statements about sufficient administrative support and recognition of doing good work. Logistic regression results showed military rank as a significant predictor of negative career satisfaction as an Army physician.

For Captains, the odds for being “not at all satisfied” with their military career were almost nine times that of Colonels.

Also, compared to their baseline group, physicians who completed their graduate medical education training, mission critical surgeons, and physicians who worked in military treatment facilities that were either a hospital (not a medical centre) or a clinic-ambulatory surgery centre had a greater risk of being “not at all satisfied” with their career as an Army physician.

Conclusions

There is significant room for improvement in MC officer career satisfaction.

The drivers of satisfaction are multiple and apply differently among MC officers of varied ranks and experience.

Senior officers are the ones who are the most satisfied with their military career.

Results of this novel MC officer study may serve as an impetus to identify existing shortcomings and make necessary changes to retain skilled Army physicians.

Army leaders should invest resources to develop and sustain initiatives that improve military career satisfaction and retention of MC officers.

Reference

Wojcik, B.E., Stein, C.R., Guerrero, K., Hosek, B.J., Humphrey, R.J. & Soderdahl, D.W. (2020) Army Physician Career Satisfaction Based on a Medical Corps Survey. Military Medicine. pii: usz480. doi: 10.1093/milmed/usz480. [Epub ahead of print].

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