Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Article Comments (1)

Emergency Medicine Residency Doesn’t Prepare Docs For The Real World

Emergency Medicine News:
February 2010 – Volume 32 – Issue 2 – p 5, 24, 25, 26

Residents training in large urban centers typically see more than 200 patients a day. They have access to all subspecialty care, typically available 24 hours a day. Residents have around-the-clock access to angioplasty, interventional radiology, hand surgeons, neurosurgeons, and plastic surgeons. Most practice emergency medicine with cardiologists and neurologists in the building or a short phone call away. Decision-making is shared, and occurs with a relative surplus of information and opinions and in a milieu of shared risk.

In reality, though, these very large and highly-specialized EDs with Level I trauma comprise less than five percent of U.S. EDs, according to the American College of Surgeons. The average ED is in a community hospital, and sees fewer than 100 patients a day. This community hospital ED will likely not be designated a Level I trauma center, and the practicing physician will have to make decisions on complicated patients without all of the resources and consultants available at a tertiary care medical center. He will have to make these decisions alone. Given that most graduating emergency medicine residents will practice in such a setting, we should ask ourselves is this the best we can do? Does the current training model best prepare the emergency medicine resident for the kind of practice he will enter

via We’re Failing Our Residents: Training ED Docs for the Real W… : Emergency Medicine News.

Nicely done.

I noticed this myself, first job out of residency.  I could do trauma in my sleep, but had a very steep learning curve at a place with high-end (and high-expectation) cardiology groups.

The reality that in ‘the real world’ there were no surgical consultations, they just wanted to know one thing: do I need to operate or not?  Also in the real world, going from a strong-hand department where the ED was regarded as the best residency with the best residents to being the new guy and the ED is the Repository of All Hospital Guilt, so no matter how thorough you were, the inpatient disaster was phrased so as to be something missed by the ER doc, and not the admitting team.

I did rotate (for one month, at the end of my residency) at a somewhat lower volume community ED, but there’s only so much to be learned while being a visitor for 18 shifts.

This doesn’t mean my trainers were lazy, or bad; it’s the reality that the hospital paying our salaries had expectations we’d be able to see the patients in that joint.

(This is, by the way, one of the better things about moonlighting as an EM resident; stretch yourself, find out what you don’t know while you still have time to learn.  We moonlit at a place about 45 minutes from our Big Center, so there was a safety net to catch us…)  Moonlighting is now Verboten, so there’s another door closed.

I’d like to see the residencies in EM move to decentralize from one place, and give a more rounded experience.  Not going to happen, but it would be nice.

*This blog post was originally published at GruntDoc*


You may also like these posts

Read comments »


One Response to “Emergency Medicine Residency Doesn’t Prepare Docs For The Real World”

  1. Nathan says:

    GruntDoc,
    Having recently done the interview trail a lot (almost all) of the programs I looked at had residents practicing in multiple locations. While they were certainly anchored at one hospital, some institutions spread residents out across 4-5 other community hospitals and others split them 50/50 at academic/urban centers. It seems like the theme almost everywhere I went (I interviewed in the west, southwest, and east coast down just past the Mason-Dixon line; didn’t see any midwest or south programs). Several programs also send residents for formal away rotations (trauma in Las Vegas, Toxicology in NYC). So who knows, perhaps this style of training will indeed be the new trend?

Return to article »

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

Read more »

How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

Read more »

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

Read more »

Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

Read more »

See all book reviews »