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Job Satisfaction and Motivation Among Physicians in Academic Medical Centers: Insights from a Cross-National Study



The Issue

Both the United States and Germany face problems in maintaining their physician workforce. The authors of this Commonwealth Fund–supported study examined U.S. and German physicians’ job satisfaction through a self-administered questionnaire targeting physicians practicing in academic medical centers.

What the Study Found

German physicians were less satisfied than their U.S. counterparts: half (51%) of German physicians were “rather satisfied” and nearly 16 percent were “very satisfied” with their work in general, compared with 29 percent and 56 percent of U.S. physicians, respectively. German physicians were also more likely to say their job satisfaction had declined over the previous six months.

In both countries, participation in decision-making was an important factor in job satisfaction. Financial incentives were on the list of concerns named by physicians in both countries, but nonmonetary factors were also important. German physicians were most dissatisfied with the hierarchical structure in academic medical centers, while U.S. physicians were more concerned with collaboration with their colleagues and managers.


Given financial and other constraints, the authors conclude that health care policymakers and managers should use a "human resource management perspective" to deploy monetary and nonmonetary incentives to motivate physicians. For example, involving physicians in collaborative working relationships and using well-trained support staff and health information technology to reduce their time burdens could help improve job satisfaction.

Publication Details

Publication Date: February 3, 2011
Author: Katharina Janus, Volker E. Amelung, Laurence C. Baker, Michael Gaitanides, Friedrich W. Schwartz, and Thomas G. Rundall
Summary Writer: Martha Hostetter
Citation: K. Janus, V. E. Amelung, L. C. Baker et al., "Job Satisfaction and Motivation Among Physicians in Academic Medical Centers: Insights from a Cross-National Study," Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, Dec. 2008 33(6):1133–67.