Combined practice in pediatric anesthesiology (PA) and pediatric critical care medicine (PCCM) was historically common but has declined markedly with time. The reasons for this temporal shift are unclear, but existing evidence suggests that length of training is a barrier to contemporary trainees. Among current practitioners, restriction in dual-specialty practice also occurs, for reasons that are unknown at present. We sought to describe the demographics of this population, investigate their perceptions about the field, and consider factors that lead to attrition.
We conducted a cross-sectional, observational study of physicians in the United States with a combined practice in PA and PCCM. The survey was distributed electronically and anonymously to the distribution list of the Pediatric Anesthesia Leadership Council (PALC) of the Society for Pediatric Anesthesia (SPA), directing the recipients to forward the link to their faculty meeting our inclusion criteria. Attending-level respondents (n = 62) completed an anonymous, 40-question multidomain survey.
Forty-seven men and 15 women, with a median age of 51, completed the survey. Major leadership positions are held by 44%, and 55% are externally funded investigators. A minority (26%) have given up one or both specialties, citing time constraints and politics as the dominant reasons. Duration of training was cited as the major barrier to entry by 77%. Increasing age and faculty rank and lack of a comparably trained institutional colleague were associated with attrition from dual-specialty practice. The majority (88%) reported that they would do it all again.
The current cohort of pediatric anesthesiologist–intensivists in the United States is a small but accomplished group of physicians. Efforts to train, recruit, and retain such providers must address systematic barriers to completion of the requisite training and continued practice.