Night Shifts in Emergency Medicine: The American Board of Emergency Medicine Longitudinal Study of Emergency Physicians

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Night shift work is an integral component of the practice of emergency medicine (EM). Previous studies have demonstrated the challenges of night shift work to health and well being among health care providers.


This study was undertaken to describe the self-reported experience of emergency physicians regarding night shift work with respect to quality of life and career satisfaction.


The 2008 American Board of Emergency Medicine (ABEM) Longitudinal Study of Emergency Physicians (LSEP) was administered by mail to 1003 ABEM diplomates.


Among 819 participants in the 2008 LSEP Physician Survey, most participants responded that night shift work negatively influenced job satisfaction with a moderate or major negative influence (58%; n = 467/800). Forty-three percent of participants indicated that night shifts had caused them to think about leaving EM (n = 344/809). Most participants responded that working night shifts has had mild negative effects (51%; n = 407/800) or major negative effects (9%; n = 68) on their health. Respondents were asked to describe how working night shifts has affected their health. Common themes included fatigue (36%), poor quality of sleep (35%), mood decrement/irritability (29%), and health maintenance challenges (19%). Among participants in the 2008 LSEP Retired Physician Survey, night shifts were a factor in the decision to retire for 56% of participants.


Emergency physicians report negative impacts of night shift work, including fatigue, poor quality of sleep, mood decrement, irritability, and health challenges. Night shifts have a negative influence on job satisfaction and can be a factor in the decision to retire.



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