One of the most difficult decisions a medical student has to make in his/her life is to choose the right medical specialty. It’s no secret that emergency medicine (EM) is a challenging medical specialty which is a great choice for medical students. The dynamic and rewarding field of emergency medicine is packed with tricky medical cases and surgical problems.
You will get the opportunity to directly deal with the patients of all ages, facing emergent medical conditions. One of the major reasons to choose emergency medicine is a wide variety of cases you will see compared to any other specialty. This aspect makes EM the most important competitive and interesting specialty for medical students.
With the right diagnosis and treatment plan, you can make a positive difference in patients’ lives. If you are not sure whether to choose EM and pursue a career in this specialty, this blog will guide medical students to choose a career in emergency medicine.
How to become an EM Doctor?
Emergency medicine doctors treat a wide variety of patients from all age groups with complex and huge spectrum of physical problems and mental issues. Pursuing a career in emergency medicine requires strong medical knowledge and sound clinical skills. If you want to become an EM physician, you need to fulfill the following educational requirements.
- Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
Aspiring EM doctors complete a bachelor’s degree to become eligible for a medical school. Make sure the premedical degree program includes all the important courses required to gain admission in a medical school. Here is a list of medical school prerequisite courses:
- Inorganic or General Chemistry
- Organic Chemistry or Biochemistry
- English or Humanities
Prepare for the MCAT
In order to get into medical school, candidates are required to take the MCAT and score impressive marks. Your test score will show the medical school admissions committees that they have a solid foundation of science, and strong reasoning, communication and writing skills.
Earn an MD Degree
If you want to pursue a career in emergency medicine, you need to enroll in a medical school and complete a four-year MD degree. During medical school, you will study the basic sciences courses to strengthen your basic medical knowledge. You will perform clinical rotations to gain some hands-on clinical experience in different healthcare settings. After completing two years of basic sciences program and two years of clinical sciences program, you will earn an MD degree.
Prepare for the USMLE
In order to become a certified physician and practice in your state, you need to pass the United States Medical Licensing Exams USMLE Step 1, 2 and 3. Aspiring emergency medicine physicians are advised to prepare for the USMLE by using question banks, tutorials, and finding relevant study material.
EM Residency Program
Upon completing a four-year MD degree and passing USMLE Step 1 and 2, you can apply for a residency program. To become a practicing emergency medicine doctor, you need to complete a three to four-year emergency medicine residency program.
Qualifying for the EM residency program is highly competitive. You need to complete your MD degree with an excellent academic record and exceptional USMLE scores. Having strong recommendations from doctors, residents and professors will also increase your chances of qualifying for an emergency medicine residency program.
Earn Emergency Medicine Certification
Once you successfully complete the residency program, you will be eligible for emergency medicine certification. Obtaining board certification will allow you to work as an EM doctor in your state.
Responsibilities of EM Physicians
Emergency medicine doctors are responsible for treating exceptionally challenging medical cases and perform clinical procedures to diagnose and treat patients to maximize their chances of survival. The ultimate goal of EM physicians is to provide the best possible treatment to patients to ensure best possible recovery.
As an EM doctor, you are responsible to work in emergency and accident departments (A&E) to provide outpatient care. Patients admitted in the A&E department are usually discharged within the same day after getting the immediate treatment. However, patients with serious conditions will be admitted and referred to the particular specialty.
Emergency medicine physicians work with different inpatient hospital specialties depending on the type of injury and medical case. Usually, EM doctors work with pediatricians, pulmonologists, endocrinologists, orthopedic surgeons, dermatologists, sports medicine physicians, radiologists, hematologists, and cardiologists. Besides working with inpatient specialties, EM doctors also work with multidisciplinary staff such as paramedical staff, nurses, residents, hospital security, and administrative staff.
Skills You Need to Become an EM Physician
- Strong Communication Skills
As an emergency medicine doctor, you are responsible to collaborate with physician assistants, nurses, lab technologists, hematologists and administration staff. Having effective teamwork skills will make it a bit easier for you to discuss a patient’s condition and make treatment plans workable.
- Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving Skills
As an emergency medicine, you must be capable enough to diagnose the disease by examining the patient’s symptoms and lab reports, if provided. Besides your strong medical and clinical knowledge, your critical thinking and problem-solving skills will help you accurately diagnose the diseases and create the best treatment plan for the patient.
- Fast Decision Making
Emergency medicine physicians are constantly in touch with lab technologists and radiologists to get the test results so that they can take the next treatment step. They must be fast decision makers to improve the condition of patients and maximize chances of recovery.
- Interpersonal Communication Skills
In the emergency department, EM physicians see a variety of patients and deal with different medical cases. Patients with non-urgent medical needs to mental health issues, complex social issues and severe injury cases, and life-threatening conditions; you will treat a myriad of medical situations. Students choosing EM medical specialty are advised to polish their interpersonal communication skills, as they have to deal with the pressure coming from the patient’s family and fulfill the patient’s expectations.
To Sum All Things Up
All in all, emergency medicine is a great career choice for medical students that provide them with many rewarding work opportunities. Besides providing valuable experience and competitive salary, the emergency medicine field gives you a high level of personal satisfaction by saving patients’ lives.