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Teaching ‘Til The Very End: Carol Rivers, M.D.

Carol Rivers, MD

To those who haven’t heard, an icon of emergency medicine has passed away.

Carol Rivers, M.D. died last week following a cardiac procedure. Carol was an outstanding clinician and educator, and one of the founders of modern emergency medicine as we’re fortunate to know it today.

Carol was perhaps best known for her board preparation guides, which helped many a terrified physician to navigate his or her emergency medicine board exams. I know her expertise helped me when I took my first American Board of Emergency Medicine (ABEM) exam.

A few years ago I was blessed with the opportunity to work with Carol on a project called “Let’s Talk Turkey,” in which she and I sat down and recorded two CDs of discussion about the state of the specialty. It was a fantastic experience, one that I will always cherish.

Below is a notification by Dr. Pam Bensen, a close associate and friend of Carol’s. Hopefully we can all get together at this year’s American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) Scientific Assembly to honor her memory.

So here’s to you, Carol. We’ll keep pressing on, thanks to the inspiration you gave us in your life and work.


From Dr. Pam Bensen:

It is with great sadness that I share with you the death of my dear friend Carol Rivers, M.D. Carol died tonight much as she lived, teaching ’til the very end.

Carol had a ventral septal myomectomy on May 6th. From the start, things got complicated. After 13 days in the ICU with every system failing for a day or two, we finally thought she would make it, all organs and limbs intact.

Sadly to say, at 2300 on May 18, 2010, the single person most responsible for thousands of board-certified emergency physicians died a sudden death, making her own diagnosis at the end. She had every complication the residents could learn from, and then some, teaching us all how to be better physicians even while fighting for her life.

Please notify your membership that Carol has died. Still a leader, she is the first icon of the second generation, the trained in emergency medicine generation, to lead to the next life. A leader in this world, she has now set off on a journey we all will follow in time.

I have asked the ACEP to reserve a room and time during the Scientific Assembly in Maine, Michigan, and Ohio to hold a memorial service in her honor, so that all emergency physicians who held her dear may mourn and celebrate her life with each other.

While the world has lost Dr. Carol Rivers, many of us have lost Carol Rivers, dear friend and mentor.

Thank you for helping me through this great loss.

Pam Bensen, M.D.

*This blog post was originally published at*

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