Choosing your specialty: Emergency Medicine

You need to love a fast paced and interactive environment if you are striving for a career within emergency medicine, as you will effectively be the ‘front door’ of the hospital to the public. Open all day, every day, emergency medicine doctors liaise with the acute hospital and keep tabs on other specialities in case they are needed.

Emergency medicine (EM) can be defined as “a specialty in which doctors use their knowledge and skills to recognise and treat the full spectrum of urgent, acute and emergency aspects of illness and injury in all age groups at any hour of the day or night.” You will be the first doctor the patient sees, so responsibility for analysing priorities will fall to you, and making a diagnosis in a time-pressured environment where stakes and emotions are high will be one of your most highly prized skills.

Emergency medicine attracts a wide range of dynamic individuals who enjoy variety and a challenge – you never know what patients you’ll get through the door or what treatments you will have to engage in.  It is an exciting and rewarding career choice, with considerable scope to develop a range of interests. Your day is a constant mix of clinical delivery, from leading a trauma call, to managing sepsis, to trying to work out what has caused an elderly person to collapse, to reducing a shoulder dislocation, to reassuring an anxious parent whilst simultaneously treating their unwell child.

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Is this specialty for you?

Areas your role may cover include:

  • Resuscitation
  • Anaesthetics and Pain Relief
  • Wound Management
  • Trauma
  • Head Injury
  • Musculoskeletal injury
  • Burns
  • Vascular Emergencies
  • Abdominal conditions
  • Cardiology
  • Respiratory Medicine
  • Neurological Emergencies
  • Hepatic Disorders
  • Toxicology
  • Acid Base and Ventilatory disorders
  • Fluid and Electrolytes
  • Renal Disease
  • Diabetes and Endocrinology
  • Haematology
  • Infectious Diseases and Sepsis
  • Dermatology
  • Rheumatology
  • Neonatology
  • Oncology
  • Psychiatry

You should have the following skills if you want to engage in an exciting career in emergency medicine:

  • Good problem solving skills – you will be the first to see the patient and assess the situation
  • Solid decision making – time is of the essence so you can’t afford to be indecisive
  • Great communication skills – emergency medicine is a very people facing role
  • Flexible – sometimes a change in approach is necessary
  • Good organisation and multitasking
  • Bags of care and compassion – you will be dealing with people at their most vulnerable