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Jinli Yu, Fei Zou and Yirui Sun

OBJECTIVE

In China, orthopedics and neurosurgery are among the most desired majors for medical students. However, little is known about the working and living status of specialists in these two fields. This study was aimed at evaluating job satisfaction, engagement, and burnout in the population of Chinese orthopedist and neurosurgeon trainees.

METHODS

A nationwide online survey was administered in mainland China. Questionnaires were answered anonymously. Job satisfaction, engagement, and burnout were assessed using the Job Descriptive Index, the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale, and the Maslach Burnout Inventory, respectively.

RESULTS

Data were collected from 643 orthopedist trainees and 690 neurosurgeon trainees. Orthopedists and neurosurgeons showed no statistical difference in terms of age, sex, job titles, and preference for working in tertiary hospitals. Orthopedists had a higher marriage rate (p < 0.01), a lower divorce rate (p = 0.017), relatively shorter working hours (p < 0.01), and a higher annual income (p = 0.023) than neurosurgeons. Approximately 40% of respondents experienced workplace violence in the last 5 years. Less than 10% of respondents were satisfied with their pay, and over 70% would not encourage their offspring to become a doctor. Orthopedists were more satisfied with their careers than neurosurgeons (p < 0.01) and had a higher level of work engagement (p < 0.01). In addition, a higher proportion of orthopedists were burnt out (p < 0.01) than neurosurgeons, though the difference between the two groups was not significant (p = 0.088). Multivariate regressions suggested that younger age (≤ 25 years old), being a senior trainee, getting divorced, working in a regional hospital, long working hours (≥ 71 hrs/wk), a low annual income (<¥100,000), sleeping < 6 hrs/day, and experience with workplace violence were significantly related to burnout for both groups.

CONCLUSIONS

Chinese orthopedic surgical and neurosurgical trainees are under significant stress. Orthopedic surgeons showed relatively optimistic data in their assessments of job satisfaction, engagement, and burnout. This study may provide valuable information for orthopedic and neurosurgical candidates considering either specialty as a career.