Hospitalists in Korea are not satisfied with their salary and employment status, a recent survey of 22 doctors working as hospitalists from a medical association showed.
The survey, conducted in August to establish a basis for understanding and implementing the hospitalist system in Korea, showed hospitalists are not compensated as well as non-hospitalists, evidenced by lower salary and lack of job security.
About 30 percent of hospitalists said that they would not be working as one next year due to poor financial and non-financial compensation. Hospitalists ranked satisfaction with monetary compensation at 2.9 points out of five, and satisfaction with non-monetary compensation (working hours, service, and social status) to be 3.1 points out of five.
“Hospitalists in the United States are paid more than non-hospitalists, but Korean hospitalists get a relatively smaller compensation. There is also much left to be desired when it comes to non-monetary compensation such as vacation days,” said Dr. An Su-jong, chairman of the hospitalist association.
Most hospitalists in Korea work on a contract basis and are not full-time workers. They are also paid less than non-hospitalists, with average annual salary being 135.13 million won. The survey also found a 112 million difference between the highest (210 million won) salary and the lowest (108 million won).
No hospital had an incentive system, and only 5 percent offered overtime compensation, it showed. Contracts that stipulated compensation for unused holidays reached just 10 percent while those which specified vacation bonuses and full attendance remained at only 27 percent, the association said. As many as 95 percent said the hospitals had no specific criteria for salary increases.
Hospitalists said they also dealt with anxiety arising from the lack of job security, as hospitals do not mention any possibility of full-time contracts or signing them on for another year.
Out of the respondents, 32 percent said the hospital explained the possibility of full-time work to them ambiguously while 68 percent said there was no mention at all. Around 27 percent said the hospital did not mention the possibility of renewing their contracts, while 18 percent said the hospitals only did so verbally. Only 13.6 percent of contracts stipulated re-signing.
The most prominent complaint of these hospitalists was a lack understanding and will of the hospital and its executive department (40 percent). Doctors also cited low monetary compensation (33 percent), low job stability related to re-signing their contract (13 percent), working hours (7 percent), and a weak sense of reward and self-development (7 percent).
The survey also examined under what conditions these doctors would continue working as hospitalists. Appropriate working hours and workload came in first at 24 percent, followed by the growth-prospect of the hospitalist system (22 percent), independent decision-making and pride as a hospitalist (15 percent), and financial compensation (12 percent). Hospitalists also marked the willingness of the hospital and executive department to establish a secure system and a mention of contract renewal to be significant at 7 percent.
“This survey reveals that the will of the hospitals and their management have a significant impact on the operation of the (hospitalist) system,” Ahn said. “We need more care and attention from the hospital to implement the system well.”
The association added it would conduct a detailed analysis of this survey and work out an improvement plan by December, and supplement the system.
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