In Emergency Medicine (EM), we are obsessed with the details when it comes to patients admitted to the Emergency Department (ED). Batteries of tests are ordered and a host of questions fired to get to the heart and the history– the why, the how, and the what behind the patient’s admission to the ED. Of course, a patient’s path into the ED is an appropriate focus; without understanding someone’s recent and more remote history it would be difficult to make informed, effective diagnoses and start a course of treatment.
On the flip side, a patient watching the flurry of activity outside a curtained room or someone considering a career in Emergency Medicine might wonder about the story behind the doctor. Where did he grow up? Why did she pick medicine instead of law? How did my doctor end up in the ED?
Emergency departments, however, don’t make an ideal setting for a nice cup of coffee and a long chat with a care provider, and these questions often go unanswered. The people that hear our most intimate symptoms, that we implicitly trust to heal us, remain a mystery.
The experiences that inspire doctors to work in the ED are as diverse and complex as the reasons patients end up there. Whatever brings a physician to EM – a no-brainer decision, a search for fulfillment, or recognition of need – they seem to have a sense of passion and urgency about their work. A good thing, since their patients are often imbued with that same sense of urgency.
This monthly interview series, focused on ED residents, will attempt to illuminate the clinician’s journey into Emergency Medicine.