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Comparative Analysis of Quality of Life and Burnout Measures Between Academic and Private Practice Plastic Surgeons.
Vinay Rawlani, MD, Roshni Rawlani, BA, Gregory A. Dumanian, MD, Thomas A. Mustoe, MD, John YS Kim, MD.
Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, USA.

PURPOSE- There has been a paucity of studies analyzing (and distinguishing) quality of life measures between private and academic plastic surgeons. Given the presumed differences in practice characteristics, we endeavored to investigate the differences in practice demographics (work load, income, etc.), career satisfaction, quality of life, and burnout between academic and private practice plastic surgeons.
METHODS- Members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons were queried via survey. The survey study included validated measures of burnout (Maslach Burnout Inventory) and quality of life (SF-12 Health Survey), in addition to standardized questions regarding career satisfaction, income, and practice demographics. In addition, a similar survey was sent to residents and fellows via emails to US program directors, evaluating career selection factors of trainees.
RESULTS- 1,754 (29.5%) of 5,942 actively practicing ASPS members and 64 residents completed the survey. Of the actively practicing surgeons, 620 identified themselves as academic plastic surgeons and 748 were identified as private practice surgeons. There were no differences in work hours worked per week (78.0 vs. 78.7) and annual income ($391,446 vs. 388,562) between academic and private surgeons. However, private practice surgeons had a significantly greater number of night calls per week (1.7 vs. 3.1, p=0.043). Academic surgeons were more likely to have non-clinical research, teaching, or administrative roles (78.4% vs. 32.4%, p=0.033). Career satisfaction (91.2% vs. 77.4%, p=0.011) and quality of life (56.2 vs. 48.4, p=0.041) was greater in academic surgeons, while there were no difference in rates of burnout (24.7% vs 26.5%). Private practice surgeons reported significantly greater home-work conflicts (46.4% vs 72.1%, p=0.046). Trainees reported that income potential (34.3%), quality of life (23.6%) and home-work balance (17.8%) were the three main factors in selecting careers in either academic or private practice.
CONCLUSION- Few significant differences were noted between academic and private practice plastic surgeons in terms of practice demographics, burnout or income. By survey measures, academic surgeons appear to have higher career satisfaction and quality of life, and less home-work conflicts than private practice surgeons.


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