Friday, February 22, 2008

Are You The Next Dr. Carter?

Like a lot of medical students I first became interested in pursuing medicine as a result of watching shows like ER on television. So naturally, my first choice as a specialty all through pre-med was emergency medicine. I was just sure I was destined to be the next Doctor Carter.

Of course, it doesn’t take long before you realize that the ED is nothing like on TV, but the initial interest is sparked and so it is only natural for ER addicted med students like myself to consider that specialty.

Rest assured, I have not settled on a specialty yet. That would be foolish this early in my education, but here are some of the facts (or Pros and Cons as I like to call them) about emergency medicine that I’ve gathered so far. (This list is not all-inclusive and what I list as Pros and Cons may be just the opposite for someone else.)

The Pros:

1) Emergency medicine is practical and fast paced
2) You get to save lives for real, day in and day out
3) You spend more time treating patients rather than writing notes
4) The work hours are fairly decent (at least, I thought so)
5) You see a wide variety of patients
6) You don’t have to worry about getting paid

The Cons:

1) You don’t get to develop long-term doctor-patient relationships

2) You have to deal with more trauma cases (gore) than the average doctor. This may seem cool at first, but trust me, seeing a 3-year old involved in a serious accident will break your heart. It doesn’t seem cool after that. Yes, there is the satisfaction that goes along with being able to help put that child back together, but it is still tough to deal with

3) EP’s (Emergency Physicians) don’t get paid as much as some other specialties

I could probably list more, but these are the ones that stand out to me.

If any of this appeals to you, do whatever you can to get the opportunity to shadow an emergency physician for a few days. I have and it was a worthwhile experience even if I do eventually decide to go in a different direction. As I said earlier, I haven’t completely decided on a specialty yet, but emergency medicine is definitely at the top of my list.


Photo Courtesy of NBC


Tiny Shrink said...

Actually, EM is becoming a more competitive field, and the pay is increasing to go with it. Considering that you're making a very nice salary for shiftwork with no call, I don't see what the problem is in terms of money. This website has the "average" salary of an ER doc at over $250,000 per year:
this website has it as just over $200,000:
Either way, this is not a poorly compensated specialty.
The only specialties that will reliably make more than that are your surgical subspecialties and maybe OB/Gyn if you catch a ton of babies. Perhaps Derm, and perhaps subspecialties of IM that are heavily procedure based will make more. Still, EM puts you above the average doctor salary.

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