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Pediatrics. 1984 Jul;74(1):52-7.

Job satisfaction and stress among neonatologists.


Neonatology is reputed to be a stressful pediatric subspecialty. To quantify objectively this stress and to assess the factors involved, a questionnaire was mailed to neonatologists in the northeastern United States. Ninety-six (70%) replied. A five-point scale was used to determine the level of satisfaction with neonatology as a career and the level and type of stress experienced at work. Almost all neonatologists experienced stress at work: 34% moderately severe and 16% very severe stress. Open-ended questions indicated that the major causes of stress were excessive work load, eg, on call too often or calls at night; problems in patient care, especially dealing with infant death; and staff disagreements, especially nurse or housestaff conflicts. Twenty percent of those surveyed suffered a stress-related illness in the previous 5 years. One sixth of the neonatologists were either moderately or very dissatisfied with their career. Major dissatisfactions were: too much work, especially managing many sick patients; lack of resources, including inadequate salary; too much stress at work; and administrative demands. Job satisfaction was derived from patient care, teaching, intellectual stimulation, and research. Altering subspecialty had been considered at some time by 58% (15% very seriously). This study confirms that neonatology, in the eyes of those who practice it, is a highly stressful career. It also suggests that job stress is a greater problem than job dissatisfaction.

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