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AAP study: Pediatricians satisfied with career despite pandemic challenges

April 1, 2022

During the recent COVID-19 surges, pediatricians reported substantial concern about the pandemic’s effects on children and the stresses on staff in their workplace. At the same time, they reported satisfaction with their career.

The findings come from a survey of participants in the AAP Pediatrician Life and Career Experience Study (PLACES), a longitudinal study of early and midcareer pediatricians.

Sixty percent of pediatricians who responded from November 2021 to January 2022 reported the delta surge added a great deal or fair amount of stress to their practice. Especially high among pediatricians’ concerns were the long-term effects of the pandemic on children’s health, such as mental health and obesity, along with stress on staff at work and staff shortages (see figure).

While facing the challenges of the pandemic, pediatricians continued to report the importance of their roles. Almost all (94%) strongly agreed or agreed their work contributes to the health of families in their community, and 72% strongly agreed or agreed their community recognizes pediatricians as a trusted source regarding COVID-19 and children. Three-fourths (77%) strongly agreed or agreed they are satisfied with their career as a physician, compared to 83% in 2020 and 81% in 2019.

For 10 years, pediatricians participating in PLACES have provided annual updates on their work, work-life balance, satisfaction, stressors and life changes.

“When the Academy launched PLACES in 2012, we thought the idea of learning about factors that shape the lives of young pediatricians as they embark upon and navigate their careers was very exciting,” said Bobbi J. Byrne, M.D., FAAP, chair of the AAP PLACES Project Advisory Committee. “Ten years later, PLACES greatly exceeded our expectations. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we were able to pivot and collect timely information on the impact of the pandemic. We cannot thank participants enough for their time and commitment over the years and especially the last two years.”

PLACES includes U.S. pediatricians who graduated residency in three cohorts: 2016-’18, 2009-’11 and 2002-’04. Each cohort has about 900 participants and includes primary care pediatricians, hospitalists and subspecialists. At press time, 1,780 pediatricians had responded online to the 2021 survey for a response rate of 66%.


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