The purpose of this study was to determine the characteristics of academic Pediatric Emergency Medicine (PEM) faculty, the workload of these physicians, and the perceived effect this workload has had or will have on job satisfaction. A self-administered, seven-page, closed-end survey was used. participants were PEM departments with PEM Fellowship Training Programs. Surveys were completed by 37 PEM departments (84%). The average number of faculty per department was 7.33. Ninety-three percent of the faculty were board certified in Pediatrics, Emergency Medicine, or both. Only 15% of the faculty had an academic rank of associate or full professor. Fifty-four percent of the faculty had less than five years' experience. Average patient census per department was 43,400 per year. Physicians without administrative titles averaged 30 clinician hours per week. Attending physicians covered 85 to 100% of the overnight shifts in 17 programs (52%). Clinical workload was believed to be excessive in 17 programs (46%), with total number of hours given as the most common reason for this excess. In nine of these 17 programs, excess clinical workload had resulted in physician "burnout." Physicians from only eight programs (22%) believed they could practice PEM after 50 years of age. Shift work and overnight shifts were given as the most common reason. Stressed physician groups were significantly associated with programs whose attending physicians covered > or = 85% of the night shifts (P < 0.04) and reported excessive clinical workload (P < 0.002). Job satisfaction perceived by PEM faculty appears to be dependent on addressing the clinical workload and the adverse effects of overnight and shift work.