A Survey of Career Satisfaction Among General and Specialized Orthopedic Surgeons
Ashley Startzman, DO; Christopher Blair, DO, MBA; Scott Polansky, BS
The decision to pursue additional training in fellowship after residency is a pivotal one for the orthopedic surgical resident. Further, this decision is required in only the fourth year of residency.
Few resources are available to the resident turning for guidance in career path choices. We sought to gather data on career satisfaction levels among practicing orthopedic surgeons to assist in the decision of whether to pursue general orthopedics versus sub-specialization.
A six-question survey was distributed to actively practicing orthopedic surgeons in different geographic areas of the United States. Surveys were distributed to members of state affiliated organizations of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons via email or electronic newsletters, as well as at the annual meeting of the postgraduate seminar of the American Osteopathic Academy of Orthopedics. 101 surveys were returned. The results of 101 surveys were analyzed. Using online data filtering tools, each individual specialty and demographical category was analyzed.
A total of 101 surveys were included in the analysis. Of the 101 responses, there were 43 general orthopedic surgeons and 58 specialized orthopedic surgeons. 77 surgeons (76%) had been in practice more than 10 years; of those, 37 (48%) were generalists. 27% of participants had military experience, and of those with military experience, 71% were generalists. 51 surgeons (51%) planned to retire in 10 years, and of these 32 (62%) were generalists. Mean career satisfaction score (MSS) of the entire study group was 8.57 (on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the most satisfied.) All orthopedic surgeons in practice greater than ten years were more satisfied with their careers (MSS 8.71) than orthopedic surgeons in practice for less than ten years (MSS 8.12.) Orthopedic surgeons in general practice reported a MSS of 8.27, and were less satisfied when compared to subspecialists, with a reported a MSS of 8.79. All orthopedic surgeons that planned to retire within 10 years of the study had lower satisfaction scores (MSS 8.32) than all orthopedic surgeons who planned to remain in practice within 10 years (MSS 8.83).
Career Satisfaction Survey Responses returned show mean career satisfaction scores of specialized orthopedic surgeons exceed those of general orthopedic surgeons in all demographics. No conclusions could be drawn regarding satisfaction scores between different orthopedic subspecialties. Orthopedic Surgeons with military experience have higher career satisfaction.
Figure 1: Mean satisfaction scores among generalized and specialized orthopedic surgeons based on military experience and length of practice.
Figure 2: Survey Distributed: Orthopedic Specialty Satisfaction Survey
1. Which of the following best describes your area of orthopedic surgical specialization?
___ General orthopedics
___ Orthopedic Trauma
___ Orthopedic Sports
___ Pediatric Orthopedics
___ Adult Hip and Knee Reconstruction
2. How would you rate your current satisfaction with your chosen area of orthopedic surgery specialization?
___ 10 (Extremely Satisfied)
___ 5 (Neither Satisfied/Dissatisfied)
___ 0 (Extremely Dissatisfied)
3. Which of the following most accurately describes the length of time you have been in practice?
___ Less than 10 years
___ 10 years or greater
4. Do you plan on retiring within the next 10 years?
5. Please select the answer that best describes the geographic location of your practice
___ Mountain west
___ West coast
6. Do any of your years of practice include practice in the military?
Table 1: Statistical analysis of returned surveys.