A comparison study of career satisfaction and emotional states between primary care and speciality residents

Med Educ. 2006 Jan;40(1):79-86. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2929.2005.02350.x.


Objective: To evaluate career satisfaction, emotional states and positive and negative experiences among residents in primary care and speciality programmes in 1 academic medical centre prior to the implementation of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education's (ACGME) duty hour requirements.

Design: Cross-sectional survey.

Measurements: All 581 residents in the academic health centre were asked to participate voluntarily in a confidential survey; 327(56%) completed the survey.

Results: Compared to their primary care colleagues, speciality residents had higher levels of satisfaction with career choice, feelings of competence and excitement, lower levels of inferiority and fatigue and different perceptions of positive and negative training experiences. However, 77% of all respondents were consistently or generally pleased with their career choices. The most positive residents' experiences related to interpersonal relationships and their educational value; the most negative experiences related to interpersonal relationships and issues perceived to be outside of residents' control. Age and training level, but not gender also influenced career satisfaction, emotional states and positive and negative opinions about residency.

Conclusions: Less satisfaction with career choice and more negative emotional states for primary care residents compared to speciality residents probably relate to the training experience and may influence medical students' selections of careers. The primary care residents, compared to speciality residents, appear to have difficulty in fulfilling their ideals of professionalism in an environment where they have no control. These data provide baseline information with which to compare these same factors after the implementation of the ACGME duty hours' and competency requirements.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Career Choice*
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Male
  • Medicine*
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Specialization*
  • Students, Medical / psychology