Emergency Medicine

Emergency Medicine: focuses on taking immediate action and making decisions to prevent death or further disability both in the pre-hospital setting by directing emergency medical technicians and in the emergency department.

Quick Facts

Competitiveness: Very high

Length of training: 3 years

Number of residency programs: 124

Number of residents in training: 3,676

Number in U.S. currently Board Certified in specialty: 18,271

First year median compensation: $162,000

Mean number of hours per week in patient activities: 44

Residency Information

You will need to complete a 3 year residency in emergency medicine. You can also elect to receive 1 to 2 years of additional training to subspecialize in:

  • Medical Toxicology- evaluates and manages patients with accidental or purposeful poisoning through drugs or toxins
  • Pediatric- special qualifications to manage emergencies in infants and children
  • Sports Medicine- deals with the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of injuries sustained in athletic endeavors.

Why Choose

There is a lot of diversity in ER medicine, even as to why a doctor chooses emergency medicine. Some students set out to be ER doctors while in medical school or even before beginning medical school.

Freedom is a strong factor, with many doctors stating they like to be mobile, can choose their own hours and don't have to worry about the business aspect of setting up a practice.

Many ER doctors will bluntly state the primary care specialties are not exciting enough; radiology doesn't provide any patient contact, and they were turned off by surgery because of the long years of training and frequent night call.

Typical Schedule

There are a lot of variables to consider in the working schedule, but commonly ER physicians will work a 12-hour shift, three to four times a week. Generally they have no daily problems and go about their job of seeing patients who present with a number of emergency cases.

If You're Interested

You need to take a good look at your career goals, are you going to feel complete if you don't have your own patients? It is always a good idea to complete a clinical elective in emergency medicine at a site where there is a residency program.

Having a broad knowledge base and manipulative skills are things to know before starting in this specialty because you won't have time to look things up or practice when a true emergency arises.