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Soc Sci Med. 2000 May;50(9):1235-46.

Career preferences and the work-family balance in medicine: gender differences among medical specialists.

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Netherlands Institute of Primary Health Care, Utrecht.


In this article career preferences of medical specialists in the Netherlands are analysed, based on a survey among the members of medical associations of five specialties. Four different career preferences were offered, each of which implied a possible variation in working hours. A questionnaire was sent to a random selected group of working specialists in general practice, internal medicine, anaesthesiology, ophthalmology and psychiatry. Logistic regressions were used to predict career preferences. Besides individual characteristics, work and home domain characteristics were taken into the analysis. Not surprisingly, the preference for career change in respect of working hours is higher among full-time MDs, especially women, than among part-time workers. In contradiction to what was expected, home domain characteristics did not predict a part-time preference for female, but for male MDs. One home domain characteristic, children's age, did predict the male part-time preference. Further gender differences were found in respect of the fit between actual and preferred working hours (A/P-fit). The majority of male MDs with a full-time preference had achieved an A/P-fit, whereas significantly less female MDs achieved their preferences. It was found that hospital-bound specialists are less positive towards part-time careers than other specialists. Furthermore, the change of working hours would imply a reduction in FTE for all specialties, if all preferences were met. Especially in hospital-bound specialisms it was not confirmed that the reduction in FTE would be low; this was found only in respect of interns. It may be concluded that individual preferences in career paths are very diverse. Personnel policy in medical specialties, especially in hospitals, will have to cope with changes in traditional vertical and age-related career paths. Flexible careers related to home domain determinants or other activities will reinforce a life cycle approach, in which the centrality of work is decreasing.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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