Emergency Medicine Career Guide: Qualifications, Job Description & Career Prospects

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Emergency Medicine Description

Choosing to practice emergency medicine is one of the most intense and exciting specialty options you can pursue. When you choose this career path you can expect to deal with a wide range of medical emergencies, most of which can be fatal if not treated promptly. As an emergency physician you should be capable of making quick diagnosis and initiating equally quick and effective treatment plans.

A physician who specializes in emergency medicine is almost always found in the emergency department of the hospital they work in. In the emergency department, you will see everything from broken limbs and traumatic brain injuries to gunshot wounds and rare diseases, just to name a few.

Even though most emergency medicine physicians work in environments where they have to diagnose a treat a wide range of conditions, you can also choose to specialize in a particular area. These areas include:

  • Sports medicine: The prevention, diagnosis and treatment of injuries sustained in athletic endeavours

  • Hospice and palliative medicine: The prevention and relief of pain and suffering experienced by patients with terminal or life-limiting illnesses

  • Hyperbaric medicine: The treatment of decompression illness and other conditions caused by diving accidents

  • Paediatric emergency medicine: The management of emergencies in infants and children

  • Medical toxicology: The assessment and management of patients who have accidentally or intentionally been poisoned by consuming drugs or any other toxic substance 

Becoming an emergency medicine physician is best suited to someone who enjoys living a fast-paced lifestyle where there’s a new challenge that needs to be overcome every day. Working as an ER doc means you will work long hours and spend a lot of time being on call, much of that time being spent crashing out at the hospital itself. Most emergency medicine doctors work in 8, 10 or 12 hour shifts.

A student at work in the obstetrics and gynaecology department at Morogoro Regional Hospital Training To Become An Emergency Medicine Physician

In order to become practice as an emergency medicine physician you will have to first complete 4 years of medical school, after which you will then complete a residency training program. The residency for emergency medicine is typically three years long and very intensive. If you choose to become specialised in one of the areas mentioned previously, you will have to complete one to two years of training in your chosen specialty and pass a certification exam.

Job Outlook

The job outlook is excellent over the foreseeable future for physicians who practice emergency medicine. One of the reasons for this is because this type of specialist is such a vital part of any emergency or trauma department in every hospital, and also because it takes a certain personality type to enjoy the work of emergency medicine and very few people have it. Your job prospects are usually best if you are willing to practice in rural and low-income areas, because these areas generally have a more difficult time attracting doctors.

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