gms | German Medical Science

GMS Journal for Medical Education

Gesellschaft für Medizinische Ausbildung (GMA)

ISSN 2366-5017

Family-friendly working conditions as an advantage in the competition for the next generation of doctors

Abstract medicine

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GMS Z Med Ausbild 2012;29(2):Doc30

doi: 10.3205/zma000800, urn:nbn:de:0183-zma0008001

This is the English version of the article.
The German version can be found at:

Received: March 16, 2011
Revised: May 4, 2011
Accepted: May 24, 2011
Published: April 23, 2012

© 2012 Benninger.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.


Despite a constant number of medical students and graduations, the exodus from the curative medicine has led to a shortage of physicians. The reasons for this - in addition to work intensification which is frequently coupled with long and often unpaid working hours, excessive bureaucracy and increasing economising - can be also found in the changing expectations and roles of young men and women who have a stronger desire for leisure and time for their families. The growing proportion of female doctors reinforces this tendency, as they are more likely to work part-time or to work limited hours or not be available at all to the workplace when pregnant or with young children. Having children usually falls into the period of professional development, so part-time employment or cessation of employment leads to longer training periods or on occasion to a complete withdrawal from a woman’s career. The under-representation of women in executive positions may also be down to the fact that when there is the double burden of work and family, career is often put on hold regardless of potential earlier plans and desires. This is likely to be the most common at university hospitals where, in addition to an already labour intensive workload beyond normal working hours in patient care, additional engagement is expected in research and teaching. And a career predominantly means postdoctoral degrees and appointments via research.

The outlined development has caused calls for “family-friendly hospitals,” with better conditions for reconciling family and working life and with more and more regular leisure time. That aside, such working conditions would also represent an advantage in the competition for the next generation of doctors. Medical Practitioner Associations have raised this issue repeatedly in various campaigns and at events in the recent past. The handbook "Familienfreundlicher Arbeitsplatz für Ärztinnen und Ärzte – Lebensqualität in der Berufsausübung ” published by A Bühren, A E Schoeller (Federal Medical Association 2010), this issue is looked at in more detail.

The regulations on CPD attempt to recognise the desire for greater flexibility, especially for doctors of either gender with families, by recognising part-time work and CPD units with breaks, while bearing in mind the limitations caused by the need for quality.

Competing interests

The author declares that he has no competing interests.