A growing number of new physicians are focused on finding positions in which they can achieve a suitable work-life balance.

National physician recruiting firm Merritt Hawkins surveyed final-year medical residents and found that geographic location and adequate personal time were driving factors in a young physician’s job-seeking process. Utah-based physician staffing company CHG Healthcare surveyed new physicians in 2018 and found that 63% cited work-life balance as their top factor in choosing a job. They surveyed 145 new physicians again in 2022, and that number jumped over 20%, to 85%.

Pandemic life has significantly influenced this shift in priorities. The emphasis on work-life balance can also be seen in the 2022 survey’s second most important factor for new physicians, with 83% of respondents prioritizing work schedule or location second.

Physicians Should Aim to Meet Personal Goals

According to Emory University associate professor of internal medicine Dr. Jason S. Schneider, MD, FACP, 92% of physicians 35 and younger value work-life balance. Female physicians especially stress the importance of balance, which is reflected in their specialty choices. However, Dr. Schneider cautions against relying too heavily on finding work-life balance in one’s medical career, as unrealistic expectations may actually contribute to burnout, ultimately further contributing to stress. In order to minimize stress, Dr. Schneider suggests by aiming to meet one’s personal goals, as opposed to competing to reach the goals of others. He also emphasizes the importance of physicians prioritizing their own nutritional, emotional, physical, and spiritual wellness.

New physicians may find solace in Merritt Hawkins’ finding that 65% of surveyed medical residents got upwards of 50 recruiting offers, and 45% got upwards of 100 offers. According to Travis Singleton of Merritt Hawkins, new physicians are being recruited like blue chip athletes, as demand is greater than supply. This makes hiring new physicians in a private practice more challenging, especially given that respondents ranked hospitals as their preferred employment setting.

Even the Most Seasoned Physicians Are Under Duress

Respondents also indicated a greater preference for positions in an urban setting, with 20% hoping to work in a city with a population of more than 1 million people and 45% hoping to work in a city with at least 250,000 people.

Perhaps the greater issue at hand, however, is Merritt Hawkins’ finding that 19% of final-year residents would not decide to go into the medical profession if they could do it over. Managing all of life’s typical stressors, along with navigating the medical field during a global pandemic, has led to increased burnout and ambivalence among new physicians. They see even the most seasoned physicians under duress, questioning their own careers, and it furthers uncertainty. As such, physicians looking for new hires would be best served to consider how work-life balance fits into their practice, for the benefit of both new hires and their own personal careers.