To evaluate physiatrist career satisfaction and current practice patterns, a 15-page survey was mailed randomly to 400 fellow members of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. The 208 questionnaires (52%) returned revealed respondents' level of satisfaction with career choice, current practice, relationships with other physicians, their own residency training, and problems experienced that impede their practice. Factor analysis identified six areas of satisfaction: time demands, organizational support, current practice, current specialty, profession, and training. Problems with work consisted of four factors: external intrusions into practice, having to deal with non-rehabilitation problems, dealing with PM&R problems, and insufficient time for patients. Results showed that 75% of physiatrists were satisfied with their practice/profession. Satisfaction with current practice was greater with fewer external intrusions into practice, a larger percentage of income from traditional non-managed payment sources (including Medicaid), and less competition. Changes in health care, such as managed care, competition, and increased external regulations, appear to interfere with current practice. Variation in satisfaction was not significantly correlated with size of community, variation in rates of payment denials, workloads of greater than 50 hours per week, and a number of other factors that one might expect to affect satisfaction. Physiatrists had made many changes in their practice in response to the changes in the health care environment but had not cut care for indigent patients. Needs for greater residency training in outpatient clinics, physicians' offices, managed care, and long-term care settings were expressed. This is the first comprehensive published report on physiatric satisfaction in a changing health care environment. Further research in some of the areas will be required.