Pre-med students know the struggles and challenges of the endless field of medicine. Medicine is complicated yet exquisite due to its endless expansion. As pre-med students slowly approach the opportunity of Medical School, the feeling begins to sink in that they can’t just have a general idea of what they want to do in medicine. Medicine is far from general and broad. According to the Medical Board of Medical Specialties, there are 25 specialist categories for certified doctors (of which 19 include subspecialties). (“Specialty and Subspecialty”) What I am going to try to do is open your eyes to the worlds of medicine and show you what a few of the 25 specialties consists of. Hopefully this will give you more of a direction of what you want to get out of medicine but still continue to ignite your motivation for the challenging path you have chosen.
We’ll start with one of the most well known specialties in the medical field- the Emergency Room Physician. The Emergency Department is actually made up of many different personnel that allow emergency operations and procedures to be addressed quickly. It is important to know that many physicians working in the ER may be specialists on a rotation with the hospital they are employed by. It is also important to understand that emergency rooms are not filled with only the excruciating and blood spattering injuries seen on TV. The ER does much more than this. The emergency room’s general care is lead by an Emergency Care physician (or the Attending Physician). As an Emergency Care physician, you will be the tip of the spear of the Emergency Medical System (EMS). These physicians work with nurses, EMT’s, firefighters, Paramedics, police and Physician Assistants to assess, diagnose, and treat patients in need of emergency attention.
In order to become an Emergency Care physician, those interested will have to complete their undergraduate degree, graduate medical school, spend anywhere from three to eight years in internships and residencies, as well as receive a license to practice as a medical doctor. In medical school, you will learn in depth about medical services in the classroom, lab, and in clinical rotations. Courses taken will be a mix of different types of chemistry, psychology, anatomy, biology, computing, and physiology. Most of these courses will be ER centered, but they may not be labeled as such. After graduation you will be able to apply for internships and residencies that allow you the training and learning to receive a license to practice upon passing your medical board exams. There are many internships and residencies in Emergency Departments of hospitals offered to medical school graduates that may be the best option for a prospective ER physician (Aarons).
The Hennepin County Medical Center, a hospital in Minneapolis, offers its residents skills that will be needed as an attending ER physician. Mentally, residents are trained on how to quickly make decisions that are best for the patient with the available resources. Physically, residents are trained to perform critical and non-critical interventions for the large crowd that utilizes the Emergency Department. This includes “managing all airway interventions, procedural sedation, orthopedic reductions and stabilizations, and other key procedures” (Hirschboeck).
Once you have successfully completed your residency with a program such as the one above and passed your medical board examinations (therefore receiving a license to practice), you can expect a busy life as an attending ER physician. The main duties of the attending physician are described by Dr. Dr. Kathleen Handal, MD, Emergency Medicine on an online forum. These duties are not limited to, but often include, “evaluating [a patient’s] condition, ordering tests and blood work, ordering medication, discovery (diagnosis), calling [the patient’s] personal physician, and ordering consults” (Handal). The University of Nevada School of Medicine commented in the same forum that emergency physicians “serve a very important role in stabilizing critical patients (such as trauma patients or patients with immediate, life-threatening conditions) before admitting them into the hospital” (University of Nevada).
In a social media website specifically for doctors, Brian Drummond, MD, Physician, commented on his experience in the emergency department. Among the nurses with medication dosing questions, technicians with ECGs to review, medical students waiting to present their patients,” and his phone ringing, Dr. Drummond still believes that “the diagnostic puzzles and ability to give care to people in times of need is a special combination that outside of [his] family gives [his] life a higher purpose. To practice medicine in an environment that expects 100% accuracy can be tough but it’s [his] calling” (Drummond).
So if after this article, you are intrigued in the Emergency Room and all it does for its patients, I encourage you to do your own research. Many emergency departments are different. This career will be a stressful one, but it is an exciting one. You have a lot ahead of you, but you can do it. Remember that there are so many more paths to take in the medical field and this may not be the one you choose, but if you do, work hard and believe that you can be the next Emergency Medicine Physicians that Baylor will be proud to brag started as a Pre-Med Bear!
Aarons, Andrew. “What Schooling Is Needed to Be an ER Doctor?” Education. Demand Media, n.d. Web. 09 Sept. 2015.
Drummond, Brian, MD. “Why I Love My Job as an Emergency Physician.” KevinMD.com. Medpagetoday, 21 Sept. 2013. Web. 12 Sept. 2015.
“Specialty and Subspecialty Certificates.” Specialty and Subspecialty Certificates. American Board of Medical Specialties, n.d. Web. 23 Aug. 2015.
Handal, Kathleen, MD. “What Do Emergency Room Doctors Do? – Critical Care.” Sharecare.com. Sharecare, n.d. Web. 12 Sept. 2015.
Hirschboeck, Mary, and Margaret Miller. “Emergency Medicine.” Emergency Medicine. Hennepin County Medical Center, 2015. Web. 23 Aug. 2015.
Univ. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family Medicine. “What Do Emergency Room Doctors Do? – Critical Care.” Sharecare.com. Sharecare, n.d. Web. 12 Sept. 2015.