Objective: To define sources of job satisfaction and stress among emergency physicians and assess self-projected career longevity.
Design: A survey containing questions regarding emergency medicine (EM) practice satisfaction was mailed to 1,317 diplomates of the American Board of Emergency Medicine (ABEM). Specific sources of practice satisfaction and dissatisfaction, self-reported burnout or impairment, and plans for remaining in the specialty were assessed. Data were compared between two groups of physicians, namely, those residency-trained in EM and those attaining certification through the practice or special category tracts.
Results: Of the physicians returning the survey, 25.2% stated that they felt burned out or impaired and 23.1% planned to leave the practice of EM within five years. Perceptions of burnout/impairment and plans to stop practice were associated with less overall practice satisfaction but were not significantly different between the two groups of physicians. Burnout/impairment was linked with psychiatric, drug, or alcohol problems and the feeling that EM had contributed to that problem.
Conclusion: This study confirms the relatively high levels of projected attrition in EM and supports the perception that stress and burnout are associated with the specialty. Differences in job satisfaction and stress between those ABEM diplomates who were residency-trained in EM and those who became eligible for the board examination through practice or special-category eligibility appear minor.