Emergency Medicine

Job Description


Hospital emergency departments are usually staffed by emergency medicine physicians. These health care professionals see patients for a variety of emergent conditions, including strokes, heart attacks and car accidents. They also treat conditions that aren’t so serious, such as lacerations or musculoskeletal injuries.

Hospital emergency rooms are typically chaotic places. Physicians must make split-second decisions when patients present with serious, life-threatening conditions and begin treatment immediately.

The physicians and nurses of the emergency department must prioritize incoming cases quickly, ensuring that the patients with the more serious conditions are seen as soon as possible. This practice is known as triage.

Working in an emergency room is one of the most taxing and challenging positions in the health care system.

Employment often includes long shifts with a possible heavy caseload of potentially critically ill patients. If you are a physician who enjoys solving medical puzzles at a breakneck pace, then emergency medicine can be a rewarding and exciting career.




Emergency physicians are trained in the important emergency medicine rule, i.e., “Rule out the worst case scenario.”

Using this rule, the physician must determine if a patient’s symptoms may be caused by a serious medical condition.

If a patient presents to the emergency department in distress, the emergency physician may be expected to perform any of the following procedures:

  • Collecting medical histories

  • Thoroughly examining patients

  • Drawing conclusions and order tests

  • Deciding on appropriate courses of treatment

  • Emergency resuscitation

  • Placing intravenous lines

  • Taking whatever steps are necessary to stabilize the patient for transport to another area of the hospital or transport to another hospital

  • Effectively treating less serious injuries, such as broken bones or lacerations.

  • Determining if patients need to be admitted to the hospital for further evaluation

  • Deciding whether

  • Discharging some patients with instructions for self-treatment and follow-up with their personal care physician for additional evaluation on an outpatient basis.

The emergency physician is expected to fully document all cases he or she works. Patient charting can add an additional dimension to an emergency physician’s workload in a busy emergency department.

In spite of the rigorous demands of the job, most emergency physicians chose emergency medicine because it provides a satisfying, life-long career of service and patient care.





Must effectively communicate with your co-workers to ensure the best care and the proper procedures. Must be able to communicate in high-stress environments.

Active Listening

Offering your full attention to an individual person or group in order to fully understand problems and their nature.

Critical Thinking

Must use logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Judgment and Decision Making

Needs to be able to act autonomously and make difficult decisions that would benefit the patient or make corrections. Must consider all benefits and repercussions of potential actions and choose the appropriate one. 

Complex Problem Solving

Must be able to identify complex problems and develop and evaluate corrective options and implement solutions. 

Stress Management

Must be able to endure intense situations and handle pressure that comes with extreme situations you may encounter.


Must be trustworthy because you have people's lives in your hands and what you do could help or hurt them. They are entrusted with a great responsibility and must live up to it. 


Gauging how people react and read their body language to decipher their feelings and predict their actions. They must be able to determine if people could be a risk to themselves or others and to distinguish truths from lies.


Working Conditions


Emergency departments in most hospitals operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The length of a shift for an emergency department physician can vary from eight-, 10- or 12-hour shifts.

They may see dozens of patients during this time, each presenting with a different range of symptoms and/or injuries.

This type of work requires physical stamina, mental acuity and an ability to maintain focus and a clear head in stressful settings.

Patients arrive at the emergency department in an ambulance or on their own. The order in which patients are seen is determined by the triage process.

The severity of the illness or injury determines which patients are moved into the treatment areas to be seen by a physician first.



Salary Outlook