Facets of career satisfaction for women physicians in the United States: a systematic review

Women Health. 2012;52(4):403-21. doi: 10.1080/03630242.2012.674092.


Women make up a growing proportion of the physician workforce, and their career satisfaction may affect their health. The authors hypothesized that many facets adversely affecting career satisfaction in women physicians were extrinsic, therefore, preventable or modifiable. The authors conducted a systematic review of the literature in English published through February 2010 to examine facets of career satisfaction of U.S. women physicians. The authors used the women physician AND job satisfaction OR career satisfaction Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) terms, and reviewed bibliographies of key articles to ensure inclusion of relevant studies. The authors used the "Strengthening the Reporting of Observation Studies in Epidemiology" quality tool. Of an initial 1,000 studies, only 30 met the inclusion criteria. Facets reported most frequently to influence career satisfaction for women physicians were income/prestige, practice characteristics, and personal/family characteristics. Overall, career satisfaction for women and men physicians was 73.4% (range = 56.4% to 90%) and 73.2% (range = 59% to 90%), respectively. When compared with men, women physicians were more concerned with perceived lack of time for relationships with patients, colleagues, and family; less satisfied with mentoring relationships and support from all sources; and less satisfied with career-advancement opportunities, recognition, and salary. Career satisfaction can affect health, as well as health and safety of patients. Many factors adversely affecting career satisfaction for women physicians are extrinsic and, therefore, modifiable.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Physicians, Women / psychology*
  • Professional Autonomy
  • Salaries and Fringe Benefits
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Support
  • United States
  • Workload / psychology