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Adv Health Sci Educ Theory Pract. 2014 Mar;19(1):29-41. doi: 10.1007/s10459-013-9457-5. Epub 2013 Apr 20.

A qualitative study of work-life choices in academic internal medicine.

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Department of Medicine, Center for Women's Health Research, School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH), University of Wisconsin-Madison, 700 Regent Street, Suite 301, Madison, WI, 53715, USA.


The high attrition rate of female physicians pursuing an academic medicine research career has not been examined in the context of career development theory. We explored how internal medicine residents and faculty experience their work within the context of their broader life domain in order to identify strategies for facilitating career advancement. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a purposeful sample of 18 residents and 34 faculty members representing male and female physicians at different career stages. Using thematic analysis, three themes emerged: (1) the love of being a physician ("Raison d'ĂȘtre"), (2) family obligations ("2nd Shift"), and (3) balancing work demands with non-work life ("Negotiating Academic Medicine"). Female researchers and educators reported more strategies for multiple role planning and management than female practitioners. Interventions aimed at enhancing academic internists' planning and self-efficacy for multiple role management should be investigated as a potential means for increasing participation and facilitate advancement.

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