Emergency Medicine

What is a emergency medicine physician?

A jack-of-all-trades but master of acute life threatening diseases, we see anyone with significant concern that shows up to the emergency room to further stabilize a critical disease and connect them with definitive care whether it is a surgical or medical condition. We are a mixed procedural/medical field of medicine that offers great life flexibility. Fellowships include disaster medicine, ultrasound, EMS, Toxicology and wilderness medicine.

Why did I choose emergency medicine?

Emergency medicine is a fast paced life style that continues to address the needs of emergent care in a community. We are trained for management of heart attacks, strokes, life threatening infectious diseases and large spectrum of urgent identification and treatment of life threatening causes. Patients come from all ages and therefore a large range of pathology is involved from neonates to elderly patients. Emergency medicine affords a life without boredom and allows the flexibility for shift work and mobility without having to maintain a practice. You can work at urgent care, freestanding emergency departments or a hospital with an emergency department. Another field of medicine with no call!

A day in the life of a emergency medicine resident

We are trained in the emergency department mainly with heavy integration of current medical technology for more rapid bedside assessment such as bedside ultrasound. Schedules are shift based with anywhere from 15-22 shifts a month depending if you are in a 3 or 4 year program. Shifts can be anywhere from 8-12 hours depending on the hospitals setup. Mine are ~9 hour shifts with overlapping shifts for oncoming team, which allows for more punctual ending of my shift. We usually sign out our patients to the oncoming team if patient care requires much more extensive time.

Due to the heavy critical care nature of ER, we receive a lot of ICU rotations to prepare us for the sickest patients. Most programs will do Medical ICU, Pediatric ICU, and a handful of other ICU rotations. Trauma rotations are standard to learn how to manage trauma victims and develop procedural skills. You will have exposure to Toxicology as well for most programs.

How to become a emergency medicine resident

Due to recent development, emergency medicine has become a very competitive field for residency. The lifestyle and mobility can be attractive along with very competitive compensation. Grades/scores will always play a role with any field and high scores make it less of a barrier against you. 

Unique to applying for EM is that standard letters of evaluation/recommendations (SLOEs/SLORs) are highly recommended. These are usually obtained by rotating with an ER physician/rotating at an academic facility. The weight of these letters usually is strongest from institutional residency program with program director involved. They provide standard template to compare skills of potential applicants and relative considerations for ranking/matching.

How long does it take to become a fully licensed emergency medicine physician?

To become a fully licensed emergency medicine physician you must complete a bachelor degree, 4 years of medical school, 3-4 years of an EM residency. Most fellowships are 1-2 year, which allows further training in a particular field of interest while bringing additional flavor to whatever group you may join.