A new study conducted by Ben Gurion University shows that 12.5% of Israeli doctors abandoned the medical profession since 2000 in favor of the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, legal consulting and hi-tech fields, Yedioth Ahronoth reported.
The findings reconfirm what medical professionals have been repeatedly claiming in recent months: Doctors in Israel are unhappy with their terms of employment, opting to abandon their calling for less stressful and better-paid jobs.
Some 1,330 doctors who received their medical licenses between 2000 and 2006 took part in the study, conducted in collaboration with the Wolfson Medical Center.
According to the study, 14.5% of the doctors who stayed in the hospitals expressed serious intent of leaving, while 9% have interviewed for jobs in other fields and 8% turned to employment agencies seeking other opportunities.
Moreover, surgeons who were surveyed expressed more frustration with their jobs than their colleagues, claiming that their salaries were too low, the work was too difficult and the on-call schedule hurt their family life. The surgeons also complained of inadequate work relations, and lamented that their work does not grant them the prestige they were hoping for.
"Their responsibility is higher, the hours are irregular and they operate while tired and stressed," head researcher Dina Van Dyke said. "You begin a surgery and don't know how it will end, and the tension stays with you even after you leave the operating table."
Van Dyke also noted that surgeons have a longer and more tiresome internship than the other specializations.
Residents more frustrated than specialists
After surgeons, eye doctors showed the highest rates of leaving the profession. Their complaints include difficult work and lack of prestige as well. Psychiatrists came in third, lamenting that they are unable to find the balance between their work and their private lives. The list also includes family and internal medicine doctors, as well as gynecologists.
The study indicates that doctors who studied in Israel are more likely to leave the profession than those who studied abroad; only 1% of those who have ditched medicine over the past decade studied in other countries, and only 7% said they are thinking of quitting.
According to Van Dyke, "Graduates of foreign universities have already made one life choice, deciding to make aliyah or return to Israel after their studies. They have already made one major move, indicating that this decision was more ideological for them."
As per the study, medical residents expressed a higher desire to leave than specialists. The residents reported unsatisfactory salary, a toll on their families and chronic exhaustion caused by irregular hours.
"The decision makers should be advised to examine ways to retain doctors and increase their job satisfaction," Van Dyke concluded.