A Day in the Life of an EM Consultant

As an Emergency Medicine Consultant you will find no two days are the same. EM physicians need to be flexible & enjoy the challenge of working in an environment that is unpredictable. We have contact with many different professional groups and deal with patients from 0 – 100 + years every day – excellent communication skills are mandatory for the job.

Clinical work includes shop-floor working in the different areas of the department; most have resuscitation areas for critically ill patients, majors areas for those with conditions requiring monitoring, minor injury & illness areas and paediatric areas. Some departments will also cover walk-in centres and nurse led minor injury units and may have primary care areas co-located. This variety of clinical areas allows you to maintain clinical skills, continually improve professional knowledge and develop strong inter-professional relationships. Clinical workload also includes review clinics for musculoskeletal injuries, ward rounds of Clinical Decision Units (CDU’s), some departments will also take responsibility for inpatient care e.g. head injuries not requiring neurosurgical intervention. On a daily basis you will be responsible for supervising a range of multi-disciplinary professionals, as well as managing departmental flow. EM physicians need to make time critical decisions and be able to interpret clinical information to determine the best management options available.

As a Consultant in EM you will also take on roles outside of direct clinical contact with patients. Teaching & educational supervision of medical trainees and those from other disciplines involves formal & informal teaching, many EM consultants choose to develop this interest by taking further qualifications in medical education and holding university roles. Audit & clinical governance form central parts to development of services, EM consultants are experts in using these tools to inform their departmental management & services provision. This includes supervision of clinical audit, complaints meetings, reviewing xray reports, incident reporting and investigation. Research is key to the development of practice in EM, several departments are involved in international research projects as well as generating their own research programmes. Liaison with other specialties and working together to improve services is vital, as is participation on trust and national committees where decisions will influence EM working.

Sub-specialty training & other career opportunities

EM physicians can chose a number of sub-specialties to train in that enhance & complement their EM working. Pre-hospital care training now has a formalized training scheme which is open to EM trainees. Links between Intensive Care Medicine and EM have always been strong, with many skills being required by both specialties – EM trainees can dual accredit with ICM. Paediatric attendances form around 25% of the clinical workload, EM physicians can sub-specialise in paediatric emergency medicine to further enhance their clinical knowledge & skills.

Many other roles have developed for EM physicians, although formal accreditation is not currently available, these include; acute Medicine, forensic medicine, disaster emergency medicine, sports medicine, mountain & wilderness medicine, event medicine and academic medicine.