If a small survey in California is indicative of young physicians nationwide, emergency room culture will need to change for younger residents to have interest.

The news comes at a worrisome time. Increased government control of health care has meant plummeting interest in emergency medicine among graduating medical students. Women are even less likely to enter the field and instead opt for a culture that requires less assertiveness and self-advocacy, according to the survey.  

The survey was very small, 25 medical students pursuing emergency medicine who were interviewed about their experiences working in an emergency room during clinical rotations. The authors found four themes: watching difficult interactions between patient and care team was distressing than it had been for prior generations; women participants found the culture to be too motivated and insistent; and access to mentors influenced interest towards the specialty.

The good news is that of the medical students interviewed -- 21 of the 25 -- still planned on applying to an emergency medicine residency.That means they will change rather than adopt emergency medicine norms based on the type of environment they experienced.  

Part of joining a medical specialty is assimilating to the established culture of characteristics and norms. The researchers wanted to assess students’ experiences working in the emergency room and how those experiences influenced the selection of specialty.  

To get some small batch data, they interviewed 25 medical students about their experiences in the emergency room. They used a constructivist grounded theory approach, meaning they gathered and synthesized answers instead of testing a preconceived idea.  
The students needed to have completed an emergency medicine rotation and considered pursuing emergency medicine. They were selected from across the country.