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Motivations for a career in emergency medicine: a profile of the 1996 US applicant pool

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 May 2015

Amin Antoine Kazzi*
The University of California, Irvine, Calif
Mark I. Langdorf
The University of California, Irvine, Calif
Delaram Ghadishah
The University of California, Irvine, Calif
Neal Handly
The University of California, Irvine, Calif
Division of Emergency Medicine, University of California, Irvine Medical Center, 101 The City Drive, Orange CA 92868; 714 456-7696, fax 714 456-5390,


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Although some studies have tried to assess the factors leading to choice of specialty, none have been specific to emergency medicine (EM). With a doubling of the number of EM residency programs in the past decade, an assessment of the career motivations of residents is in order.


To identify and rank the factors that lead candidates to choose EM as a career. Methods: Fifty-four participating EM programs returned a total of 393 anonymous surveys completed by their 1996 National Residency Matching Program (NRMP) interviewees. The survey asked respondents to rank 12 factors on a 5-point (0–4) Likert scale.


Respondents ranked the 12 motivating factors in the following descending order of importance: diversity in clinical pathology, emphasis on acute care, flexibility in choice of practice location, flexibility of EM work schedules, previous work experience in EM, greater availability of EM faculty for bedside teaching, strong influence of an EM faculty advisor or mentor, relatively shorter length of training, better salaries for EM than for primary care specialties, the presence of an EM residency at the student’s medical school, perception that EM residents have more time to moonlight and popularity of EM among medical students.


US applicants appear to choose a career in EM largely because of clinical factors (diversity of clinical pathology and emphasis on acute care) and practice-related factors (flexibility in practice location and schedule).

Academics • Formation
Copyright © Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians 2001


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