Georgia is listed as a high-priority country in the fight against tuberculosis (TB) in the 2016 WHO TB report. For Georgia to achieve its goals towards TB elimination a skilled and sustained workforce is essential; however, there has been a recent lack of new physicians entering the field. In this setting, we sought to evaluate the current TB clinician workforce to improve understanding of the current situation and challenges for the future.
A cross-sectional study of current TB physicians was conducted at the National Center of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (NCTLD) in Tbilisi and associated regional locations in Georgia. An anonymous 31-item survey was administered to collect data on demographic and job characteristics and career satisfaction. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the results.
Among a total of 184 TB physicians in the country, 142 (77%) were contacted and 138 (75%) completed surveys. The mean age was 56 and less than 10% were under age 40. Most (81%) were female. All 11 regions of the country were represented, with close to half of physicians (n=56, 41%) from Tbilisi. Monthly salary from TB work was $205 or less for 50% of respondents. Nearly half (47%) receive additional salary from another source. Over half of physicians (65%) indicated they were satisfied with their work in TB, but 55% were unsatisfied with reimbursement. Most physicians (80%) indicated both a lack of interest in TB among current medical students and expressed concern about the lack of young physicians entering the field. While most physicians (85%) agreed TB control has improved, nearly all (95%) agreed that TB continues to be a major public health problem in Georgia.
In Georgia, we found there are few young physicians working in TB, and that while satisfied with their work current physicians are dissatisfied with low salaries and concerned about attracting new doctors to the field. New strategies are needed to retain and attract physicians to TB.
M. Machaidze, None