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.
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
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.
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.
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.