Emergency Medicine - How to Become an Emergency Medicine Physician

Emergency Medicine

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Emergency Medicine Job Description

 

Hospital emergency departments are usually staffed by emergency medicine physicians. These health care professionals see patients for a variety of emergent conditions, including strokes, heart attacks and car accidents. They also treat conditions that aren’t so serious, such as lacerations or musculoskeletal injuries.

Hospital emergency rooms are typically chaotic places. Physicians must make split-second decisions when patients present with serious, life-threatening conditions and begin treatment immediately. The physicians and nurses of the emergency department must prioritize incoming cases quickly, ensuring that the patients with the more serious conditions are seen as soon as possible. This practice is known as triage.

Working in an emergency room is one of the most taxing and challenging positions in the health care system. Employment often includes long shifts with a possible heavy caseload of potentially critically ill patients. If you are a physician who enjoys solving medical puzzles at a breakneck pace, then emergency medicine can be a rewarding and exciting career.

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Responsibilities

 

Emergency physicians are trained in the important emergency medicine rule, i.e., “Rule out the worst case scenario.” Using this rule, the physician must determine if a patient’s symptoms may be caused by a serious medical condition.

If a patient presents to the emergency department in distress, the emergency physician may be expected to perform any of the following procedures:

  • Collecting medical histories

  • Thoroughly examining patients

  • Drawing conclusions and order tests

  • Deciding on appropriate courses of treatment

  • Emergency resuscitation

  • Placing intravenous lines

  • Taking whatever steps are necessary to stabilize the patient for transport to another area of the hospital or transport to another hospital

  • Effectively treating less serious injuries, such as broken bones or lacerations.

  • Determining if patients need to be admitted to the hospital for further evaluation

  • Deciding whether

  • Discharging some patients with instructions for self-treatment and follow-up with their personal care physician for additional evaluation on an outpatient basis.

The emergency physician is expected to fully document all cases he or she works. Patient charting can add an additional dimension to an emergency physician’s workload in a busy emergency department. In spite of the rigorous demands of the job, most emergency physicians chose emergency medicine because it provides a satisfying, life-long career of service and patient care.

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Skills

 

Communication

Must effectively communicate with your co-workers to ensure the best care and the proper procedures. Must be able to communicate in high-stress environments.

Active Listening

Offering your full attention to an individual person or group in order to fully understand problems and their nature.

Critical Thinking

Must use logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Judgment and Decision Making

Needs to be able to act autonomously and make difficult decisions that would benefit the patient or make corrections. Must consider all benefits and repercussions of potential actions and choose the appropriate one. 

Complex Problem Solving

Must be able to identify complex problems and develop and evaluate corrective options and implement solutions. 

Stress Management

Must be able to endure intense situations and handle pressure that comes with extreme situations you may encounter.

Trustworthiness

Must be trustworthy because you have people's lives in your hands and what you do could help or hurt them. They are entrusted with a great responsibility and must live up to it. 

Perceptiveness

Gauging how people react and read their body language to decipher their feelings and predict their actions. They must be able to determine if people could be a risk to themselves or others and to distinguish truths from lies.

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Working Conditions

 

Emergency departments in most hospitals operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The length of a shift for an emergency department physician can vary from eight-, 10- or 12-hour shifts. They may see dozens of patients during this time, each presenting with a different range of symptoms and/or injuries. This type of work requires physical stamina, mental acuity and an ability to maintain focus and a clear head in stressful settings.

Patients arrive at the emergency department in an ambulance or on their own. The order in which patients are seen is determined by the triage process. The severity of the illness or injury determines which patients are moved into the treatment areas to be seen by a physician first.

 


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How to Become an Emergency Medicine Physician:

 

1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree (4 Years)

 

Aspiring family physicians must first complete a bachelor's degree program in order to continue on to medical school. Traditionally, premed programs offered by nearly all major universities, but are not necessarily required to enter medical school.

Programs that emphasize science, such as biology, physics, or physiology, may also be sufficient as medical school qualifications. However, those that are certain they want to enter this, or any other, medical profession should pursue a premed program.

 

The preparation timeline below offers an example premed curriculum: 

 

Grade Level

Example Courses

Freshman Year

 

  • Health Care Systems

  • Biology I & Lab

  • Biology II & Lab

  • Calculus I

  • Chemistry I & Lab

  • Chemistry II & Lab

  • English I

  • Psychology 

  • Humanities Requirements

  • Electives

Sophomore Year

  • Public Health

  • Anatomy & Physiology I & Lab

  • Anatomy & Physiology II & Lab

  • Statistics

  • Organic Chemistry I & Lab

  • Organic Chemistry II & Lab

  • Basic Skills for Healthcare

  • Nutrition

  • Humanities Requirements

  • Electives

Junior Year

 

  • Healthcare Communication

  • Healthcare Professional Writing

  • Genetics & Microbiology I & Lab

  • Physics I & Lab

  • Physics II & Lab

  • Problems in Healthcare

  • Healthcare Research

  • Biochemistry I & Lab

  • Humanities Requirements

  • Electives

Senior Year

  • Health in the US

  • Health Education and Planning

  • Healthcare Management

  • Health Policy

  • Capstone

  • Remaining Requirements

  • Remaining Electives

 

2. Take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)

 

To be admitted into medical school, candidates must first take the MCAT, or Medical College Admission Test, a 7.5 hour, standardized, multiple choice exam used to assess the applicant's knowledge of science, reasoning, communication, and writing skills.

 

The MCAT is divided into four sections:

 

Section/Category

 Section Breakdown

Biological & Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems

  • 59 multiple-choice questions

  • 95 minutes

  • Tests biology, organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, and biochemistry

Chemical & Physical Foundations of Biological Systems

  • 59 multiple-choice questions

  • 95 minutes

  • Tests biochemistry, biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics

Psychological, Social, & Biological Foundations of Behavior

  • 59 multiple-choice questions

  • 95 minutes

  • Tests introductory psychology, sociology, and biology

Critical Analysis & Reasoning Skills

  • 53 multiple-choice questions

  • 90 minutes

  • Tests reading comprehension, humanities, and social sciences

 

You can find study materials, MCAT registration, and your test scores on the AAMC website here.

 

3. Earn a Medical Degree (4 Years)

 

A list of accredited medical education programs is available through the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). For more information and advice on successfully getting into medical school, you can check with the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Medical school consists of four years of studying the basics in science and participating in clinical “rotations.” These are hands-on clinical experiences in real health care settings. In most med schools, the first two years are taken up with classroom studies before students are assigned to do rotations. The current trend, however, finds a number of medical schools exposing students to early clinical experiences that continue throughout the four-year program.

Most medical schools base their curriculum on a system-based approach that focuses on one physiological system at a time, such as the respiratory system or the nervous system. Still others may use a case-based curriculum that teaches about the human body’s normal functioning and disease processes by assigning students to following individual patient cases from start to finish. Still other med schools use a combination of these approaches to educate their students.

The most common lines of coursework among medical schools consist of the following subjects:

  • Anatomy

  • Biochemistry

  • Ethics

  • Pharmacology

  • Physiology

  • Psychology

During the last two years of schooling, students are required to obtain hands-on experience at hospitals and clinics, learning to diagnose and treat patients while working under the supervision of licensed physicians.

Upon completion of four years of med school, a student is awarded a medical degree, or M.D. Another popular trend is for schools to offer combination degree programs, such as MD/MPH, MD/PHD or MD/JD. The AAMC’s website on Medical School Admission Requirements offers more information on this option.

 

The preparation timeline below provides an example medical school curriculum:

 

Year

Example Courses

Year 1

 

  • Cells and Tissues

  • Molecular Foundations of Medicine

  • Applied Biochemistry 

  • Genetics

  • Disease Mechanisms & Development

  • Cardiac Life Support

  • The Nervous System

  • Immunology

  • Gross Anatomy of Head & Neck

  • Microbiology

  • Pulmonary System

  • Cardiovascular System

  • Microbiology

Year 2

  • Renal/Genitourinary System

  • Gastrointestinal System

  • Skin/Endocrine Systems

  • Reproduction & Women's Health

  • Microbiology

  • Behavior & the Brain

  • Hematology

  • Systemic Diseases

  • Microbiology

  • Clinical Clerkship

Year 3, 4, 5

 

  • Internal Medicine

  • Pediatrics

  • Surgery

  • Obstetrics & Gynecology

  • Family Medicine

  • Psychiatry

  • Neurology

  • Critical Care

  • Ambulatory Med

  • Research, Reflections and Advances in Patient Care

 

4. Pass the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE)

 

Every state requires physicians to pass a national, standardized exam. Licensing requirements vary from state to state, so contact your state's medical board for specific requirements.

For an aspiring emergency medicine physician, the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) is required. The USMLE is sponsored by the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) and the Federation of State Medical Boards of the United States (FSMB). Aspiring physicians can find sample questions, tutorials, and other study materials on the USMLE website. This exam has a limit of 6 attempts, and they may not be retaken to improve scores.

 

5. Complete a Residency Program (3 - 4 Years)

 

To qualify as a practicing emergency medical physician, successful completion of a three- or four-year emergency medicine residency is required. This must take place in a facility that is approved by the Residency Review Committee. Obtaining an assignment to a residency in emergency medicine is highly competitive, dependent upon excellent academic record with good grades and recommendations from medical school professors.

The American Medical Association’s online FREIDA service is an interactive database of over 9,400 graduate medical education programs. These programs are all accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. There is also information on over 200 combined specialty programs.

 

6. Earn an Emergency Medicine Certification

 

Once you’ve completed a residency in emergency medicine, board certification is obtained by successfully completing both a written and an oral examination. Re-certification by written exam is required every 10 years thereafter. Obtaining board certification also requires training in advanced life support procedures.

 

Step-by-step Emergency Medicine Certification Guide

 

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Salary Outlook

Title Company Location Posted
12.05.2016
The Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Iowa Health Care, is seeking to fill faculty positions at the rank of Associate Scholar. Tracks of study include Education, International Emergency Medicine, Research or Automotive...
12.05.2016
Physician Leading rural hospital seeks addition of full and part time physician to staff the emergency department (ED). Ideal candidate will be board certified in family medicine or emergency medicine. The full time position consists of 12...
12.05.2016
Recent graduates and experienced faculty are invited to apply for faculty positions in our expanding Emergency Medicine Department. Successful candidates will join our team in providing patient-focused clinical care, education at all levels,...
12.05.2016
Under the general guidance and direction of the supervising physician, provides medical consultation, routine patient care, and follow-up as directed. Assists physician with procedures and services as a liaison between the physician and the...
12.05.2016
PHYSICIAN PRACTICE SPECIFICS Become part of the growing department of Emergency Medicine Physicians staffing two emergency rooms located less than 10 miles apart. Essentia Health St. Mary's Medical Center-Duluth ER Annual ED volume:...
12.05.2016
Become part of a growing department of BE/BC emergency medicine physicians staffing two emergency rooms located less than 10 miles apart. Essentia Health St. Mary's Medical Center-Duluth Emergency Room Annual ED volume: 42,000 patient...
12.05.2016
: The Chief, Section of Pediatric Emergency Medicine will work to integrate educational, clinical, research, faculty development and community service functions of the Section including the training of residents, fellows, medical...
12.05.2016
Become part of a growing department of BE/BC emergency medicine physicians staffing two emergency rooms located less than 10 miles apart. Essentia Health St. Mary's Medical Center-Duluth Emergency Room Annual ED volume: 42,000 patient...
12.05.2016
Hospital-employed Emergency Medicine job opportunity in Webster City, Iowa! We are an (IPERS) Iowa Public Employees Retirement System covered employer with competitive benefits and salary
12.07.2016
Department: Emergency MedicineA Life-Changing CareerPosition Summary: No one prepares you for Emergency Medicine like Mayo Clinic! As an NP or PA in Emergency Medicine, your relationship with Mayo Clinic will begin with a customized mentoring and...
12.05.2016
- Program Administrator - UC Health Business Center - Emergency Medicine (038591) Job Description Program Administrator - UC Health Business Center - Emergency Medicine(Job Number: 038591) Description Primary Purpose: EMS Education tied...
12.07.2016
Department: Emergency MedicineA Life-Changing CareerPosition Summary: No one prepares you for Emergency Medicine like Mayo Clinic! As an NP or PA in Emergency Medicine, your relationship with Mayo Clinic will begin with a customized mentoring and...
12.07.2016
Department: Emergency MedicineA Life-Changing CareerPosition Summary: No one prepares you for Emergency Medicine like Mayo Clinic! As an NP or PA in Emergency Medicine, your relationship with Mayo Clinic will begin with a customized mentoring and...
12.07.2016
Department: Emergency MedicineA Life-Changing CareerPosition Summary: No one prepares you for Emergency Medicine like Mayo Clinic! As an NP or PA in Emergency Medicine, your relationship with Mayo Clinic will begin with a customized mentoring and...
12.07.2016
Department: Emergency MedicineA Life-Changing CareerPosition Summary: No one prepares you for Emergency Medicine like Mayo Clinic! As an NP or PA in Emergency Medicine, your relationship with Mayo Clinic will begin with a customized mentoring and...
  1. ASSOCIATE SCHOLAR - EMERGENCY MEDICINE Iowa City, IA University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics
    The Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Iowa Health Care, is seeking to fill faculty positions at the rank of Associate Scholar. Tracks of study include Education, International Emergency Medicine, Research or Automotive...
  2. Emergency Medicine Physician Ronan, MT St. Luke Community Healthcare
    Physician Leading rural hospital seeks addition of full and part time physician to staff the emergency department (ED). Ideal candidate will be board certified in family medicine or emergency medicine. The full time position consists of 12...
  3. EMERGENCY MEDICINE FACULTY PHYSICIAN Iowa City, IA University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics
    Recent graduates and experienced faculty are invited to apply for faculty positions in our expanding Emergency Medicine Department. Successful candidates will join our team in providing patient-focused clinical care, education at all levels,...
  4. NP/PA Emergency Medicine Rochester, MN Olmsted Medical Center
    Under the general guidance and direction of the supervising physician, provides medical consultation, routine patient care, and follow-up as directed. Assists physician with procedures and services as a liaison between the physician and the...
  5. PHYSICIAN - Emergency Medicine - Duluth/Superior Duluth, MN Essentia Health
    PHYSICIAN PRACTICE SPECIFICS Become part of the growing department of Emergency Medicine Physicians staffing two emergency rooms located less than 10 miles apart. Essentia Health St. Mary's Medical Center-Duluth ER Annual ED volume:...
  6. Physician-Emergency Medicine Duluth/Superior Duluth, MN Essentia Health
    Become part of a growing department of BE/BC emergency medicine physicians staffing two emergency rooms located less than 10 miles apart. Essentia Health St. Mary's Medical Center-Duluth Emergency Room Annual ED volume: 42,000 patient...
  7. Chief, Section of Ped Emergency Medicine Miami, FL Miami Children's Hospital
    : The Chief, Section of Pediatric Emergency Medicine will work to integrate educational, clinical, research, faculty development and community service functions of the Section including the training of residents, fellows, medical...
  8. PHYSICIAN-Emergency Medicine/Toxicology, Duluth, MN Duluth, MN Essentia Health
    Become part of a growing department of BE/BC emergency medicine physicians staffing two emergency rooms located less than 10 miles apart. Essentia Health St. Mary's Medical Center-Duluth Emergency Room Annual ED volume: 42,000 patient...
  9. Hospital-employed Emergency Medicine job opportunity in Webster City, Iowa! Webster City, IA VanDiest Medical Center
    Hospital-employed Emergency Medicine job opportunity in Webster City, Iowa! We are an (IPERS) Iowa Public Employees Retirement System covered employer with competitive benefits and salary
  10. Nurse Practitioner or Physician Assistant Emergency Medicine Job Rochester, MN Mayo Clinic - Rochester
    Department: Emergency MedicineA Life-Changing CareerPosition Summary: No one prepares you for Emergency Medicine like Mayo Clinic! As an NP or PA in Emergency Medicine, your relationship with Mayo Clinic will begin with a customized mentoring and...
  11. Program Administrator - UC Health Business Center - Emergency Medicine West Chester, OH West Chester Hospital
    - Program Administrator - UC Health Business Center - Emergency Medicine (038591) Job Description Program Administrator - UC Health Business Center - Emergency Medicine(Job Number: 038591) Description Primary Purpose: EMS Education tied...
  12. Supplemental Nurse Practitioner or Physician Assistant - Emergency Medicine Job Rochester, MN Mayo Clinic - Rochester
    Department: Emergency MedicineA Life-Changing CareerPosition Summary: No one prepares you for Emergency Medicine like Mayo Clinic! As an NP or PA in Emergency Medicine, your relationship with Mayo Clinic will begin with a customized mentoring and...
  13. Nurse Practitioner or Physician Assistant - Emergency Medicine Job Rochester, MN Mayo Clinic - Rochester
    Department: Emergency MedicineA Life-Changing CareerPosition Summary: No one prepares you for Emergency Medicine like Mayo Clinic! As an NP or PA in Emergency Medicine, your relationship with Mayo Clinic will begin with a customized mentoring and...
  14. Nurse Practitioner or Physician Assistant Emergency Medicine Job Rochester, MN Mayo Clinic - Rochester
    Department: Emergency MedicineA Life-Changing CareerPosition Summary: No one prepares you for Emergency Medicine like Mayo Clinic! As an NP or PA in Emergency Medicine, your relationship with Mayo Clinic will begin with a customized mentoring and...
  15. Nurse Practitioner or Physician Assistant Emergency Medicine Job Rochester, MN Mayo Clinic - Rochester
    Department: Emergency MedicineA Life-Changing CareerPosition Summary: No one prepares you for Emergency Medicine like Mayo Clinic! As an NP or PA in Emergency Medicine, your relationship with Mayo Clinic will begin with a customized mentoring and...