The Medical Career and the Key Factors Driving the Exodus of Doctors from the National Health Service in Portugal

Marianela Ferreira, Alexandra Lopes, Miguel Guimarães, Henrique Barros


Introduction: This article addresses the organization and management of medical careers in Portugal within the framework of the National Health Service. It focuses, in particular, on some indicators of motivation and professional satisfaction.
Material and Methods: This article is part of a broader research project on the organization of medical careers in Portugal. It draws on the results of a survey carried out to active medical doctors, residents and those that have already abandoned the National Health Service. The sample was drawn from the database of physicians enrolled in the Northern Section of the Medical Association.
Results: A total of 3253 physicians were surveyed. Physician satisfaction levels vary according to age, type of connection to the National Health Service and are associated with expectations regarding the professional future.
Discussion: Despite the close connection with the National Health Service, younger doctors showed higher levels of professional dissatisfaction and uncertainty regarding their professional future. Although with varying degrees of discontent depending on the groups considered, the dissatisfaction of the professionals interviewed is with the physical conditions of the workplace and with the opportunities for career advancement. At the level of interpersonal relations and training, satisfaction is high. The anticipation of retirement and the transfer to the private sector are options that professionals consider as a strategy to respond to professional dissatisfaction.
Conclusion: The study shows that the current functioning of the National Health Service does not diminish the interest in the practice of medicine, but rather motivates the search for more attractive and rewarding working conditions.


Job Satisfaction; Motivation; Physicians; Private Sector; Retirement; State Medicine

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