A National Survey of Academic Emergency Medicine Leaders on the Physician Workforce and Institutional Workforce and Aging Policies

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To describe the policies, practices, and attitudes of academic emergency medicine (EM) leaders regarding workforce issues, shift work, and accommodating the academic and personal needs of aging physicians.


In 2009, the authors and the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine’s Aging and Generational Issues taskforce developed, pilot tested, and deployed a survey of academic leaders at EM residency programs in the United States. They used descriptive statistics to analyze the results and chi-square or Fisher exact test for additional comparisons.


Seventy-eight of 146 (53%) invited EM leaders completed the survey. Forty-four of those 78 (56%) respondents reported formal or informal policies at their institutions for accommodating aging faculty, and 55 (71%) reported policies for accommodating faculty for reasons not related to age. Fifty-six (73%) reported employing physicians who work primarily overnight shifts, whereas only 23 (30%) reported employing physicians who work primarily weekend shifts. Fifty-five (71%) supported considering age in assigning shift type (overnight, weekend, etc.), but only 26 (33%) supported considering age in determining number of shifts. Sixty-six (86%) supported considering a faculty member’s academic role in determining number of shifts. Only 26 (34%) supported considering a faculty member’s academic rank in determining number of shifts, and 15 (20%) supported considering rank in assigning shift type.


EM leaders have considered the implications of issues related to clinical shift work and aging physicians. The findings of this report indicate some of the ways that leaders have begun to adapt their programs to ensure the field’s future success.

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