Research Activities Strongly Linked to VA Physician Job Satisfaction

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WASHINGTON – Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) physicians who spend at least 20 percent of their time in research activities are more likely to have greater job satisfaction and report more favorable job characteristics, according to an article published July 27 in the August issue of Academic Medicine. The study, “Job Characteristics and Job Satisfaction among Physicians Involved with Research in the Veterans Health Administration,” also shows higher job satisfaction among physicians conducting research in VA facilities located on the same campus or within walking distance of an affiliated medical school.  

“Research and continuous learning are vital to improving the health and health care of Veterans,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “As this study shows, the outcome is not only in terms of scientific innovation and development on behalf of Veterans, but also in terms of the professional fulfillment our physicians experience.”

Study authors David C. Mohr, Ph.D., and James F. Burgess Jr., Ph.D., of the VA Boston Health Care System, based their findings on data from the 2008 VA All Employee Survey, which included a question about research involvement. VA physicians with at least 20 percent research involvement provided higher ratings with regard to new skill development opportunities, work and family balance, feedback from supervisors, and job autonomy. Responses came from 7,734 full-time physicians at 135 VA medical centers nationwide.

VA Under Secretary for Health Dr. Robert A. Petzel added, “With physician job satisfaction vital to both workforce retention and better patient outcomes, the study holds important implications for maintaining a high performance health system.”

Petzel, along with VA Chief Academic Affiliations Officer Dr. Malcolm Cox, VA Chief Research and Development Officer Dr. Joel Kupersmith, and VA Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Health Dr. Robert L. Jesse, co-authored a related commentary to the study, “Building Human Capital: Discovery, Learning and Professional Satisfaction,” also published in the August issue of Academic Medicine.

To read the article and commentary, go to journals.lww.com/academicmedicine. To learn about VA Research visit www.research.va.gov.

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