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American Academy of Emergency Medicine

Shortage of Board-Certified Emergency Physicians

A Study of the Workforce in Emergency Medicine

John C. Moorhead, M.D., Michael E. Gallery, Ph.D., Thomas Mannle, W. Calvin Chaney, J.D., Lily C. Conrad, M.D., Ph.D., William C. Dalsey, M.D., Robert S. Hockberger, M.D., Steven C. McDonald, D.O., Dighton C. Packard, M.D., Michael T. Rapp, M.D., J.D., Colin C. Rorrie, Jr., Ph.D., Robert W. Schafermeyer, M.D., Roslyne Schulman, Dennis C. Whitehead, M.D., Colleen Hirschkorn, Paul Hogan

Ann Emerg Med. 1998;5:595-607.

This study addressed several important issues related to the quality of physicians working in U.S. Emergency Departments including:

  1. What is the number of emergency medicine full-time equivalent (FTE) positions used in hospital Emergency Departments for clinical practice?

  2. How many physicians are used to fill this demand?

  3. How much of the demand is filled by physicians who are residency trained and/or board certified in emergency medicine?

The design was a prospective descriptive observational study using a written survey mailed to the medical directors of a random sample of Emergency Departments. The survey was conducted of Emergency Departments drawn from a representative sample of all hospitals with Emergency Departments identified in the 1995 American Hospital Association database. The study was guided by the Lewin Group, a nationally recognized research firm with extensive experience in workforce studies.

The results indicate that in 1997 there were approximately 32,000 physicians working in Emergency Departments and that only 52% were certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine or the American Osteopathic Board of Emergency Medicine.