Qualitative overview of the situation of Junior Doctors in Europe

Qualitative overview of the situation of Junior Doctors in Europe

Authors: Alvaro Cerame, Patrick Pihelgas, Miglė Trumpickaitė, Anna Klesmite-Bluma, Konstantinos Roditis


The European Junior Doctors Association conducted a study to explore the impact of work experiences on junior doctors across Europe. This qualitative research aimed to understand how these experiences affect their professional and personal lives and to gather ideas for improving their working conditions and job satisfaction. Despite diverse healthcare systems and cultural values in Europe, the study unveiled a remarkable consensus among junior doctors regarding their central concerns and issues, transcending national differences.

This qualitative study involved seventeen semi-structured interviews with representatives from 24 National Medical Associations. The interviews aimed to delve into the experiences of junior doctors, focusing on gathering common experiences and suggestions for improvement across different European countries. The methodology was tailored to understand the universal themes that resonate across varied national healthcare systems, training structures, remuneration, and cultural backgrounds. The study's approach was comprehensive and inclusive, using thematic analysis to systematically assess the content of the interviews, ensuring a broad understanding of the challenges and aspirations faced by junior doctors in Europe.

The study identified eight key trends across Europe:
1.    Shared disappointment and job dissatisfaction: Widespread dissatisfaction with job conditions, irrespective of country.
2.    Workload strains due to heightened demand: Excessive work demands leading to hurried decision-making and care quality concerns.
3.    Generational shift: Preference for work-life balance over work-centric lifestyle, contrasting with previous generations.
4.    Redefining professional calling: Desire for fair compensation and respect for personal time, moving away from the traditional notion of overworking as part of medical vocation.
5.    Rising resignations from clinical roles: Increasing trend of junior doctors leaving clinical roles for alternative career paths.
6.    Shift in specialty choices: Preference for specialties offering better working conditions, potentially affecting the attractiveness of medicine.
7.    Gender inequalities: Challenges faced by female junior doctors, including career interruptions and workplace biases.
8.    Cross-border mobility challenges: Migrant junior doctors encountering professional growth barriers and social integration difficulties.

The study underscores systemic issues in the European medical field, particularly affecting junior doctors. The unanimity in themes across different countries points to widespread systemic challenges rather than isolated issues. The generational shift suggests a need for rethinking traditional medical roles and expectations, while the trend of resignations and altered career choices signals a looming crisis in medical workforce sustainability. Addressing gender inequalities and the specific challenges of migrant junior doctors is crucial for fostering a supportive and inclusive work environment. These findings necessitate comprehensive policy interventions and systemic reforms. Emphasizing improved working conditions, equitable compensation, and fostering a balanced, equitable work culture is imperative to address the challenges faced by junior doctors and ensure the sustainability and effectiveness of the medical workforce in Europe.


European Health Management Association Official Website

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