Health care workplace discrimination and physician turnover

J Natl Med Assoc. 2009 Dec;101(12):1274-82. doi: 10.1016/s0027-9684(15)31139-1.


Objective: To examine the association between physician race/ ethnicity, workplace discrimination, and physician job turnover.

Methods: Cross-sectional, national survey conducted in 2006-2007 of practicing physicians (n = 529) randomly identified via the American Medical Association Masterfile and the National Medical Association membership roster. We assessed the relationships between career racial/ethnic discrimination at work and several career-related dependent variables, including 2 measures of physician turnover, career satisfaction, and contemplation of career change. We used standard frequency analyses, odds ratios and chi2 statistics, and multivariate logistic regression modeling to evaluate these associations.

Results: Physicians who self-identified as nonmajority were significantly more likely to have left at least 1 job because of workplace discrimination (black, 29%; Asian, 24%; other race, 21%; Hispanic/Latino, 20%; white, 9%). In multivariate models, having experienced racial/ethnic discrimination at work was associated with high job turnover (adjusted odds ratio, 2.7; 95% CI, 1.4-4.9). Among physicians who experienced workplace discrimination, only 45% of physicians were satisfied with their careers (vs 88% among those who had not experienced workplace discrimination, p value < .01), and 40% were contemplating a career change (vs 10% among those who had not experienced workplace discrimination, p value < .001).

Conclusion: Workplace discrimination is associated with physician job turnover, career dissatisfaction, and contemplation of career change. These findings underscore the importance of monitoring for workplace discrimination and responding when opportunities for intervention and retention still exist.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Career Mobility
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personnel Turnover / statistics & numerical data*
  • Physicians / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prejudice*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • Workplace*