What does it mean to practice emergency medicine exactly?

Dr Oscar John Ma
4 min readOct 3, 2022

Emergency medicine is a subspecialty of internal medicine that concentrates on the diagnosis and treatment of patients who need prompt medical intervention due to injuries or diseases. Physicians who work in emergency rooms see patients of all ages who are unable to keep their regularly scheduled visits. Training is required continuously for those who practice this branch of medicine so that they can treat patients in unforeseen circumstances.

The need for doctors with more advanced education led to the development of the medical specialty known as emergency medicine. Since that time, the sector has developed into a primary care specialization. In the United States, physicians who work in emergency rooms are more than simply medical professionals; they are also influential figures in the healthcare system. They are conversant with the requirements of patients, the several subfields that make up the healthcare system, and the different community health programs.

This high-stakes, high-pressure specialty poses a one-of-a-kind set of obstacles to those who work in the medical field. It exposes physicians to a variety of stressful situations as well as hazards, which may be harmful to their health. Recent qualitative research led us to discover that the culture of emergency care is comprised of seven core principles, 27 cultural beliefs, and innumerable behaviors.

The field of medicine that focuses specifically on treating medical emergencies is referred to as emergency medicine. Various sub-specialties fall under this umbrella. Finding the proper one for the patient may have a significant influence on how they turn out. In addition, these experts will be able to guide you through the process of identifying the most appropriate remedy for your urgent situation. Medical professionals that specialize in emergency care are often accessible whenever an emergency occurs, at any time of day or night, and in some cases, they even work on holidays.

Training in emergency medicine typically lasts for six years and includes rotations in pediatrics, surgery, and emergency department settings. At least half of the time spent in the emergency department must be spent training residents in all three specialties. They may carry out treatments such as intubating a patient who is comatose due to the effects of a heroin overdose, placing chest tubes in patients who have hemothorax, and conducting cardiopulmonary resuscitation on patients who are in cardiac arrest. Patients as young as six years old who are complaining of stomach discomfort may also be treated by these professionals. Even though they regularly operate in high-stress and disorganized conditions, doctors in emergency departments nonetheless do their best to restore order.

Case Files and Blueprint Emergency Medicine’s other resources are comparable to one another, however, Blueprint Emergency Medicine’s materials are more in-depth and cover a wider variety of subject areas. These are wonderful extra reading materials for emergency medicine students since they explain the variations between the different hospital settings and the treatments that are performed in those settings. Keep in mind that there are also away rotations!

Additionally, journals, as well as blogs, are fantastic resources for emergency medical knowledge. Using an RSS reader, you may subscribe to their updates. These websites produce papers that are often evaluated by other experts in the field, and if you search for a particular subject, you should have no trouble finding one that is pertinent to your interests. In addition, many of them contain social media indexes, which may be of great use when attempting to find answers to certain clinical issues.

One of the most important aspects of a patient’s treatment in emergency medicine is the interaction between the patient and the attending physician. It places obligations on both the patient and the physician, including the obligation of the physician to identify and treat the condition of the patient. The patient anticipates that the attending physician will be educated and trustworthy, as well as that they will not desert them or transport them to another facility for treatment.

A common form is known as the guidance-cooperation model, in which the patient is advised by the attending physician while also participating in the physician’s decision-making process. This concept is consistent with the “doctors know best” notion and entails a patient asking their physician for information and technical aid in solving a medical problem. On the other hand, the patient is obligated to comply with the choices that are made by the doctor. Although this approach is often used in acute situations, it is far less popular in chronic care settings. The patient is only a passive receiver of care according to this concept, with the physician serving as the main caregiver.

In the field of emergency medicine, potential employment settings vary from working as a physician at a big hospital to holding a position in an academic medical center. Academic employment often pays less than emergency room occupations, but they provide better benefits and greater flexibility in one’s schedule. In addition to this, they provide chances to attend medical conferences and make connections with other medical professionals. Additionally, the majority of academic emergency room doctors work fewer hours and are less likely to develop burnout as a result.

To be successful in the field of emergency care, physicians need to be able to think rapidly and effectively. Emergency medicine is a subspecialty of internal medicine that focuses on responding to medical emergencies and transferring patients to more appropriate care as quickly as possible. This is in contrast to other areas of medicine, which require working with patients over a longer period and performing various medical procedures.



Dr Oscar John Ma

Dr. Oscar John Ma served as Professor and Chair of Emergency Medicine at Oregon Health & Science University between 2007- 2019.