Everyone wants the time they spend away from home and loved ones to matter. Too often, those who are unhappy at work are unhappy because they don’t feel like what they do matters.
A recent article by Wharton professor Adam Grant cites many studies that show which professionals find meaning in their work. According to one study, those who find their work most meaningful are those who believe their work makes a positive impact in the lives of others. Another study showed those who view their careers as callings rather than just jobs find their work more meaningful.
As you work your way through residency and continue to push yourself as a physician, it may sometimes be difficult to remember why you became a physician in the first place, especially at times when your patient contact is minimal. The aforementioned research demonstrates that the further a person is from the “end user”—someone who benefits from their work—the more difficult it is for that person to find meaning in what they are doing.
One study from the Radiological Society of North America found that radiologists took a more personal and empathetic approach to patients’ lab reports when the reports had patients’ photos attached. Researchers also found that when a photo was included, radiologists spent more time examining the files and writing the reports on that patient.
As a physician, you have many opportunities to make a difference in your patients’ lives. Sometimes spending an extra few minutes speaking with a patient or understanding their health factors is all it takes to remind you of the meaning of the work you do every day.
Another recent PracticeLink article examined a survey that backed up Grant’s assertions. That survey found that, overall, physicians ranked the following five elements as most important to job satisfaction and engagement:
- Respect for my competency and skills
- Feeling that my opinions and ideas are valued
- Good relationships with my physician colleagues
- Good work/life balance
- A voice in how my time is structured and used
It is imperative to keep these factors in mind when searching for a new job. Check out the environment and ask the fellow physicians how satisfied they are in the practice. Carefully choosing where you will invest your time and energy will benefit you for years to come.
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