Emergency physicians are becoming happier and happier with their careers, especially freshly minted ones.
Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed EPs in their first or second year of practice still reported the highest level of career satisfaction in 2017 compared with their colleagues who have been in the specialty longer. In fact, even more newbie EPs said they were very or somewhat satisfied with their careers in 2017 (97.4%) than two years ago (89.5%). Those with 26 to 30 years of practice under their belts came out second in career satisfaction, with 88.6 percent of them reporting feeling very or somewhat satisfied with their careers (76.7% in 2015). EPs who have been practicing for more than 30 years ranked third in career satisfaction in 2017 with 88 percent saying they were very or somewhat satisfied with their careers, a slight dip from 88.4 percent in 2015.
It stands to reason that younger EPs are probably the happiest among all age groups, and that's exactly what our 2017 survey data reflect. All of our survey respondents aged 26 to 30 years said they were very or somewhat satisfied with their careers, even higher than the 90 percent in 2015. Next up are those older than 60, 88.9 percent of whom reported career satisfaction in 2017 (v. 86.7% in 2015). These upward trends were noted across all age groups, except for the 36-to-40 demographic.
Our latest salary survey found that overall career satisfaction was largely the same in 2017 compared with 2015, with only a few minor changes (for the better). A total of 84.2 percent of emergency physicians reported feeling very or somewhat satisfied with their careers, while 83.5 percent said so in our 2015 survey. On the other end of the spectrum, the percentage of EPs somewhat or very dissatisfied with their careers remained constant at 10 percent.
EPs seemed to derive even greater enjoyment in having more professional responsibilities, including managing employees, in 2017 than they did two years before. Close to 95 percent of those who managed more than 30 employees were very or somewhat satisfied with their careers, up from the already-high number of 90.5 percent in 2015. Fewer EPs with 16 to 20 employees under their wing reported feeling very or somewhat satisfied in 2017, but they continued to rank second in career satisfaction at 90.8 percent v. 97.8 percent in our last survey. Those who oversaw 11 to 15 employees reported the third highest satisfaction rate.
This explains why chiefs and directors of EDs had the greatest career satisfaction compared with staff EPs and EM residency directors in our 2017 survey. Close to 92 percent of chiefs said they felt very or somewhat satisfied with their careers, compared with 87.4 percent in 2015. Not as many EM residency directors, who had the highest career satisfaction by title in our previous survey, were as happy with their careers two years later—88 percent of them said they were very or somewhat satisfied, falling from 91.6 percent in 2015. Even though staff EPs still reported the lowest percentage of very or somewhat satisfied physicians among the three categories at 82.5 percent in 2017, this percentage is still a step up from their 2015 record of 81.6 percent.
It comes as no surprise that the more satisfied EPs are with their employers, the more satisfied they are with their careers. Our data from the 2017 salary survey, however, offered a nice surprise: EPs reported higher career satisfaction regardless of how happy they were with their employers. More than 93 percent of EPs reported themselves as very satisfied with their employer, increasing from the already-high 91.8 percent two years prior. Of those who said they were somewhat satisfied with their employers, 89.9 percent reported feeling very satisfied with their careers, while only 76.5 percent of this group said the same in 2015.
The picture doesn't look as rosy when we turn our focus to career satisfaction by employer type, however. Those who worked for independent EP groups held the highest percentage of physicians very or somewhat satisfied with their careers at 44 percent in 2015, but it dropped to 38 percent in 2017. EPs employed by hospitals and health care systems drew even with their independent group colleagues at 38 percent, up from 32 percent in 2015. The satisfaction among contract management-employed EPs dropped slightly to 21 percent from 22 percent in 2015.
Compensation for administrative tasks like paperwork and completing medical records is still tied to high career satisfaction, with 90.7 percent of EPs who were paid for completing these tasks saying they felt very or somewhat satisfied with their careers in 2017, up from 87.9 percent in 2015.
Higher salary increases also correlated with higher career satisfaction in our 2015 salary survey. Not so much in our 2017 survey: Not only did the percentages of those who received 2.1 to 5 percent salary raise and felt very or somewhat satisfied with their careers increase to 89. 4 percent and 89 percent from 88.8 percent and 86 percent, respectively, they also surpassed the percentage of EPs who received more than seven percent increase in salary, which was 88.7 percent in 2017 and 91.7 percent in 2015.
Find a more comprehensive version of this article with additional tables and data in the Emergency Medicine News Salary Survey blog at http://bit.ly/EMNSalarySurvey.
Next month: Then and Now: A Closer Look at Gender. We'll cross-reference gender with salary, career satisfaction, board certification, type of employer, and more in next month's salary survey article. We'll also publish that article ahead of print in our enews. Sign up for the enews (free!) at http://bit.ly/EMNenews.