Background: A shortage of primary care physicians (PCPs) seems likely in Germany in the near future and already exists in some parts of the country. Many currently practicing PCPs will soon reach retirement age, and recruiting young physicians for family practice is difficult. The attractiveness of primary care for young physicians depends on the job satisfaction of currently practicing PCPs. We studied job satisfaction among PCPs in Lower Saxony, a large federal state in Germany.
Methods: In 2009, we sent a standardized written questionnaire on overall job satisfaction and on particular aspects of medical practice to 3296 randomly chosen PCPs and internists in family practice in Lower Saxony (50% of the entire target population).
Results: 1106 physicians (34%) responded; their mean age was 52, and 69% were men. 64% said they were satisfied or very satisfied with their job overall. There were particularly high rates of satisfaction with patient contact (91%) and working atmosphere (87% satisfied or very satisfied). In contrast, there were high rates of dissatisfaction with administrative tasks (75% dissatisfied or not at all satisfied). The results were more indifferent concerning payment and work life balance. Overall, younger PCPs and physicians just entering practice were more satisfied than their older colleagues who had been in practice longer.
Conclusion: PCPs are satisfied with their job overall. However, there is significant dissatisfaction with administrative tasks. Improvements in this area may contribute to making primary care more attractive to young physicians.