Insights from end-of-career general practitioners on changing working conditions and generational differences: considerations for future strategies

BMC Prim Care. 2024 May 18;25(1):171. doi: 10.1186/s12875-024-02419-z.

Abstract

The landscape of general practice has experienced notable transformations in recent decades, profoundly influencing the working conditions of general practitioners (GPs). This study aimed to examine the most salient changes affecting GPs' daily practices. Through semi-structured qualitative interviews with 15 end-of-career GPs, the study explored how these changes affected work organization, equipment, working hours, work-life balance, job satisfaction, training, patient relationships, and reputation. The interviews revealed that these changes were perceived as barriers, opportunities, or a complex interplay of both for general practice. While the interviewed GPs valued technological advancements and reported positive developments in working conditions, challenges included a gradual reduction in the range of tasks, growing administrative burdens, and less practical training for young physicians. Other changes, such as new doctor-patient dynamics, the transition from single to group practice, and differing professional expectations of the younger generation, were seen as both challenging and strengthening for general practice. By combining these factors and trade-offs observed by end-of-career GPs in our study over the past few decades with general societal changes, we provide ideas for the design of future framework conditions in general practice that might enhance the attractiveness of the profession. These insights offer key considerations that can guide future strategies for general practice and medical education.

Keywords: Delivery of Health Care; Health Facility Environment; Healthcare Reform; Primary Health Care; Professional Practice.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Female
  • General Practice / education
  • General Practitioners* / education
  • General Practitioners* / psychology
  • Humans
  • Intergenerational Relations
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Qualitative Research
  • Work-Life Balance*
  • Working Conditions
  • Workload / psychology