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The student's role in the Emergency Department

Think like a physician

The Emergency Department (ED) is an exciting, vibrant and fast-paced clinical environment. The ED requires emergency medicine (EM) physicians to hone in on a patient’s chief complaint and extrapolate all relevant information from that patient’s history and physical exam in order to make decisions about necessary diagnostic tests, disposition and treatment.

This ability is vital because EM physicians are often managing multiple patients simultaneously, prioritizing tasks between the patient with a large laceration in one bed and the patient suffering from an acute myocardial infarction (MI) in the next.

This variety requires that the emergency physician be trained in a wide breadth of procedures — central lines, lumbar punctures, chest tubes, ultrasound, etc. Being competent in a variety of skills is what keeps the scope of practice lively, requiring EM physicians to be life-long learners..

Eventually, a trained emergency physician is able to handle not only traumas, but also almost every other imaginable acute and non-acute problem. Because most hospital admissions come through the ED, it is imperative that the EM physician have an excellent grasp of nearly all fields of medicine.

Your conduct, your environment

Students who show enthusiasm, initiative and interest during their EM rotation will undoubtedly have the best experience and make the best impression on our evaluators. A student’s demeanor in the ED with patients, fellow physicians and staff members has a substantial impact on how they are perceived.

Please ensure that you are always respectful during your interactions in the ED. Remain focused on this learning opportunity, provide outstanding care to patients and get the most from the experiences provided. 

Do not hesitate to seek out interesting cases or procedures when they present themselves. Ask to observe when possible!