Comparing characteristics and perspectives of U.S. anesthesiology fellows in training and anesthesiologists in their first year of practice

Emily Toutkoushian, Dandan Chen, Huaping Sun, David O. Warner, Alex Macario, Stacie G. Deiner, Mark T. Keegan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The purpose of this study was to evaluate relationships between demographics, professional characteristics, and perceived challenges facing the specialty of anesthesiology among physicians who entered a fellowship and those who started independent practice immediately after finishing a U.S. anesthesiology residency. Methods: Anesthesiologists in the year after their residency graduation were invited to take an online survey during the academic years of 2016–2017, 2017–2018, and 2018–2019, with questions about their personal characteristics, the nature of their professional lives, and their perceptions of the greatest challenge facing the profession of anesthesiology. Results: A total of 884 fellows-in-training and 735 anesthesiologists starting independent practice right after the completion of their residency responded. Fellows were slightly younger (mean = 33.2 vs. 34.0 years old, p < 0.001), were more likely to have a spouse who works outside the home (63.9% vs. 57.0%, p = 0.002), had fewer children (mean = 0.69 vs. 0.88, p < 0.001), worked more hours per week (mean = 56.2 vs. 52.4, p < 0.001), and were less likely to report a personal and professional life balance (66.4% vs. 72.3% positive, p = 0.005) than direct-entry anesthesiologists. Fellows and direct-entry anesthesiologists identified similar challenges in three broad themes – workforce competition (80.3% and 71.8%), healthcare system changes (30.0% and 37.9%), and personal challenges (6.4% and 8.8%). Employment security issues posed by non-physician anesthesia providers and perceived lack of appreciation of anesthesiologists’ value were commonly cited. Relative weighting of challenge concerns varied between fellows and direct-entry physicians, as well as within these groups based on gender, fellowship subspecialty, location or size of practice, and frequency of supervisory roles. Conclusions: Anesthesiology fellows and direct-entry anesthesiologists had largely similar demographics and perspectives on the challenges facing anesthesiology in the United States. Group differences found in some demographics and perspectives may reflect different motivations for choosing their professional paths and their diverse professional experiences.

Original languageEnglish
Article number963
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Anesthesia workforce competition
  • Anesthesiology fellows in training
  • First-year practicing anesthesiologists
  • Perceived challenges for the profession of anesthesiology
  • Value of anesthesiologists


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