Portuguese physician's job preferences

January 22, 2024

The global shortage of doctors has raised concerns about their retention, particularly in the face of tight healthcare budgets. This paper studies the preferences of physicians in order to assess how best to retain them. The paper uses a Discrete Choice Experiment in which 697 physicians in Portugal revealed their preferences by making a sequence of choices between two jobs, based on the job attributes at different levels (see figure).

Job attributes surveyed.
Caption: Job attributes surveyed.

The paper finds that autonomy is the most valued job attribute, challenging the notion that it is all about the money, followed by frequent training, earnings, and flexible schedules. Physicians are willing to trade cash for valuable non-monetary benefits. For e.g., respondents would require an extra 28.6% of their monthly net income as compensation for having to preform with limited work autonomy.

As physicians often work in the public and privte sectors, the paper is able also studies he choices of dual practitioners. While both groups share similar preferences, subtle nuances emerged. The findings suggest that public sector physicians exhibit slightly stronger preferences for training and access to updated facilities, potentially influenced by the greater complexity of cases treated in public institutions. In contrast, dual practitioners appear to prioritize earnings and flexible scheduling in their preferences.

In summary, the results point to the importance of initiatives to increase autonomy, work-life balance, and learning opportunities. Retaining full-time public sector doctors requires tailored initiatives to enhance professional growth.

Click here to go to the paper by Joana Pestana, João Frutuoso, Eduardo Costa, and Filipa Fonseca.


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