Female EPs are very close to attaining equality with male EPs, at least in board certification. The number of board-certified female EPs has increased significantly since the last EMN salary survey in 2015, so much so that it almost pulled even with the number of board-certified male EPs in 2017. Eighty-four percent of female physicians reported having board certification in our 2017 survey, compared with 74 percent two years ago, while 86 percent of male physicians said they were board-certified, an increase from 84 percent in 2015. The board certification gap between the two genders has narrowed to two percent from 10 percent over the span of two years.
The trend in board certification and age wasn't so clear-cut. Take the age group with the highest percentage of doctors with board certification: More of those over 56 said they were board-certified—26 percent—in 2017 compared with 20 percent before, but more of them also said they didn't have board certification: 43 percent v. 35 percent in 2015.
Those findings were reflected in the data on years in practice and board certification: A higher number of more experienced EPs said they were board-certified compared with two years prior, specifically those who had been in the specialty for 16-20 years, 26-30 years, and more than 30 years. The percentage of physicians who reported themselves as board-certified rose to 16 percent in 2017 from 13 percent in 2015 for the 16-to-20-year group, to nine percent from seven percent for the 26-to-30-year cohort, and to 13 percent from 11 percent for those who had more than 30 years of experience in EM.
Most EPs, board-certified and non-board-certified, still worked in hospitals or health care systems. What's different in 2017 was that fewer doctors in this practice setting said they were board-certified—78 percent v. 80 percent in 2015—and significantly more of them did not have board certification—82 percent v. 71 percent in 2015. On the other hand, while the number of board-certified EPs working in an academic or university setting remained the same at 13 percent in 2017, fewer EPs said they did not have board certification at five percent, dropping from 10 percent in 2015. Similarly, lack of board certification became less common among EPs in urgent care (4% in 2017 v. 7% in 2015) and freestanding EDs (3% in 2017 v. 4% in 2015).
The majority of EPs stayed put in community nonprofit hospitals between 2015 and 2017, and the percentage of those with board certification was again 36 percent in our most recent survey. The number of non-board-certified EPs, however, fell to 31 percent from 33 percent in 2015. In fact, a general decline in board certification was observed across types of hospitals, except for private nonprofits and VA/military facilities. Twenty-three percent of respondents who worked in private nonprofits said they were board-certified compared with 21 percent in 2015.
Hospitals or health care systems replaced independent EP groups as the employer with the highest percentage of board-certified EPs in 2017. While the number of EPs who were employed by a hospital or health care system and had board certification held steady at 37 percent from 2015, that of board-certified physicians working for independent EP groups fell to 34 percent in 2017 from 39 percent in 2015. It stands to reason then that the percentage of non-board-certified EPs working for independent groups increased, to 25 percent from 23 percent two years ago, to be exact. Contract management groups were the only employer category that saw an increase in board-certified employees (27% v. 23% in 2015).
The employer satisfaction and dissatisfaction between EPs with and without board certification were neck and neck in 2015, with board-certified physicians reporting feeling a bit happier. Seventy-six percent of board-certified EPs said they were very or somewhat satisfied with their employers, while 75 percent of EPs not holding board certification said so. Slightly more non-board-certified doctors said they were very or somewhat dissatisfied with their employer at 16 percent compared with 14 percent of their board-certified peers. Non-board-certified EPs said they were very or somewhat satisfied with their employers at 78 percent compared with 73 percent of their board-certified colleagues, but fewer non-board-certified doctors also reported feeling very or somewhat dissatisfied with their employers at 11 percent compared with 17 percent of board-certified ones.
Those without board certification also felt happier with their careers than those who had board certification in 2017, which was also the case in our 2015 survey. Back then, 86 percent of non-board-certified doctors said they felt very or somewhat satisfied with their careers, while only 83 percent of board certification holders said so. That gap had widened in 2017, with 89 percent of non-board-certified EPs feeling very or somewhat satisfied with their careers and 83 percent of their board-certified counterparts saying so.
Next month: Then and Now: Board Certification, Part Two. We'll cross-reference board certification with locale, ED visits, plans to move, 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. You can also find past salary survey articles with additional tables in the Emergency Medicine News Salary Survey blog at http://bit.ly/EMNSalarySurvey.