Survey suggests majority of women surgeons satisfied in their profession

11/11/04

CHICAGO – Fifty-seven percent of women surgeons in Austria reported being very satisfied or satisfied in their professional situation, according to an article in the November issue of The Archives of Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

According to background information in the article, the number of women surgeons is increasing globally. In 2000, the percentage of female medical students was 63 percent in Austria, with the percentage of female medical school graduates 54 percent. Approximately 37 percent of medical doctors in Austria are women, making up about 10 percent of all certified surgeons in general surgery. However, studies on women surgeons are rare in Europe.

Adelheid End, M.D., of the University of Vienna, Austria, and colleagues surveyed Austrian women surgeons of all surgical specialties, in order to examine current professional and social traits, and opinions. The response rate for the 164-item questionnaire was 58.7 percent (206 of 351). The average age of survey respondents was 39.4 years, with 115 women (56 percent) between the ages of 35 and 45 years. Sixty-six percent (n=136) had a significant other and ninety-seven of the women (n=47 percent) had at least one child.

The researchers found that 57 percent of respondents (n=117) were satisfied or very satisfied with their professional situation. Twenty-eight percent (n=58) of the surgeons were moderately satisfied, while 13 percent (n=27) were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied. When asked how well organized their department was, 25 percent (n=52) described their organization as being very good; 54 percent (n=111) as average; and 18 percent (n=37) as bad. Higher satisfaction was found in surgeons in subspecialties, certified surgeons, comparatively younger and older surgeons, surgeons working in facilities outside of the capital, and surgeons with a physician as a significant other.

"Women surgeons' professional satisfaction highly depends on departmental organization and status of activity. Inadequate leadership, low operative volume, and being on maternity leave have a negative effect on job satisfaction. Private factors seem to be of little influence. Optimal departmental organization would help women to reconcile their professional and their private lives," the authors write.

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