Why Australian GPs are happiest in the world – almost

13 January 2020 | UK/Ireland GPs | 4 minutes read

Why Australian GPs are happiest in the world – almost

A new international study reveals that Australian GPs are amongst the world’s happiest.

How do Australian GPs stack up against the rest of the world in terms of happiness?

A recent international survey analysed the most important factors contributing to the overall happiness of GPs around the world. While Norway tops the list on self-reported job satisfaction, Australia has taken second place. Surprisingly, the study highlights that Australian GPs are far happier than their colleagues in Sweden, the US and Germany. 

In this post we will explore why Australian GPs are among the world’s happiest.

Salary

Salary is a key component of job satisfaction. An international comparison shows that Australian GPs come third in terms of highest average yearly income.

Australia continually performs very well in the United Nations Human Development Index (HDI) which is one of the most widely respected and quoted measurements of a country’s development in terms of quality of life for the average person. In 2019, Australia was ranked 6th place in the HDI index. As a means of comparison, the UK ranked 15th place.

Workload & working hours

According to RACGP’s Health of the Nation Report 2018, nearly 85% of GPs report being satisfied or very satisfied with their work hours.

Research also found that Australian GPs worked 10 hours less on average per week than those in France or Germany — a factor seen as key element of job satisfaction.

Country Median consultation time (minutes) Median weekly working hours Median time dedicated to admin tasks (%) Median FTE GPs working at the practice Use of electronic health records(%)
United States 15 45 10 3 85
United Kingdom 10 44 20 5 98
Switzerland 20 48 20 2 54
Sweden 20 40 22 4 99
Norway 20 40 20 4 100
New Zealand 15 36 20 4 100
Netherlands 10 45 20 2 99
Germany 10 50 20 1 86
France 20 50 15 1 76
Canada 15 40 15 4 73
Australia 15 40 10 5 92

 

Work-life balance

Australian GPs are becoming very conscious of a good work-life balance. Especially younger generation GPs and female GPs, prioritise a good balance between work and activities in their private life contributing to good health and wellbeing. GPs also tend to retire earlier these days.

The perception of a GPs work-life balance largely depends on the average working hours. Generally speaking, GPs who work less than 40 hours a week, perceive their work-life balance in a more positive way then doctors working more than 40 hours a week.

The study found that Australian GPs work 40 hours a week (median). As such, 52% of GPs reported that they are able to maintain a good work–life balance.

What is interesting is that 30% of GPs believe their work–life balance will improve over the coming 12 months. Perhaps, they aim at working fewer hours.

Time spent on admin tasks

It’s no secret that GPs don’t like to perform admin tasks as their time can be spent doing more meaningful things – a  problem that Australian General Practices have addressed quite efficiently in order to alleviate GP’s workload. The study reveals that Australian GPs spend 10% of their working time on admin tasks compared with 22% in Sweden and 20% in France and Germany.

Overall GP job satisfaction

The data of the survey by 12,049 GPs across Australia, New Zealand, the US and Europe, suggests that Norway GPs are the happiest in the world. Australia comes in second place on the GP happiness index.

53% of Australian GPs reported being satisfied with their jobs, while another 35% describe themself as very satisfied.

GPs working in the UK’s National Health Service were among the least likely to report being satisfied.

UK GPs also reported median consultation times of 10 minutes, or five minutes less than the Australian average. It is likely the result of workplace pressures, employer guidelines and KPIs.

Australian GPs work in a more relaxed environment than their UK counterparts. Spending more time with patients ultimately benefits the patients themself and it contributes to a better health care system. The UK median working week of GPs is 44 hours, whereas in Australia it’s 4 hours less.

Not surprisingly, in Alecto’s own annual salary survey, UK GPs who made the move to Australia, always report that their work-life balance has improved. In our 2018 survey, 92% of respondents indicated that the move to Australia had a ‘very positive or ‘positive’ impact on their life.

Disclaimer: This information should not be interpreted as legal opinion and therefore should not be the basis of decision making without requesting legal advice on your circumstances.  Alecto Consulting Pty Ltd does not carry any responsibility for opinions and statements in any of its website blogs or other information.

 

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