Political Priorities, Voting, and Political Action Committee Engagement of Emergency Medicine Trainees: A National Survey

Rachel E. Solnick, Zach K. Jarou, Cheryl K. Zogg, Dowin Boatright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: Medicine is increasingly influenced by politics, but physicians have historically had lower voter turnout than the general public. Turnout is even lower for younger voters. Little is known about the political interests, voting activity, or political action committee (PAC) involvement of emergency physicians in training. We evaluated EM trainees’ political priorities, use of and barriers to voting, and engagement with an emergency medicine (EM) PAC. Methods: Resident/medical student Emergency Medicine Residents’ Association members were emailed a survey between October–November 2018. Questions involved political priorities, perspective on single-payer healthcare, voting knowledge/behavior, and EM PACs participation. We analyzed data using descriptive statistics. Results: Survey participants included 1,241 fully responding medical students and residents, with a calculated response rate of 20%. The top three healthcare priorities were as follows: 1) high cost of healthcare/price transparency; 2) decreasing the number of uninsured; and 3) quality of health insurance. The top EM-specific issue was ED crowding and boarding. Most trainees (70%) were supportive of single-payer healthcare: “somewhat favor” (36%) and “strongly favor” (34%). Trainees had high rates of voting in presidential elections (89%) but less frequent use of other voting options: 54% absentee ballots; 56% voting in state primary races; and 38% early voting. Over half (66%) missed voting in prior elections, with work cited as the most frequent (70%) barrier. While overall, half of respondents (62%) reported awareness of EM PACs, only 4% of respondents had contributed. Conclusion: The high cost of healthcare was the top concern among EM trainees. Survey respondents had a high level of knowledge of absentee and early voting but less frequently used these options. Encouragement of early and absentee voting can improve voter turnout of EM trainees. Concerning EM PACs, there is significant room for membership growth. With improved knowledge of the political priorities of EM trainees, physician organizations and PACs can better engage future physicians.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)469-478
Number of pages10
JournalWestern Journal of Emergency Medicine
Volume24
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2023

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