Interview with a PGY1 Emergency Medicine Resident

  • /Reviewed by: Amy Rontal, MD
  • What drew you to Emergency Medicine?
    The excitement! You really never know what is going to walk in through the door of the ED at any given moment, and you are never bored. I also appreciated how Emergency Medicine was all shift work. When you are off the clock you are OFF THE CLOCK. No pages, no being on call. This was really important to me and my lifestyle. Beyond that, there are so many other things I love about Emergency Medicine. It is a privilege being the first point of contact for a patient who is coming into the hospital potentially very nervous and scared. I love being there for my patients; talking to them, helping care for them, coming up with a management plan and advocating for them. I have seen so many different types of people and heard all different types of stories in my short time in EM as a PGY1- I am looking forward to this life-long career.
    Were you considering any other fields?
    I considered a lot of different fields, but mostly surgery or OB/GYN. I really love procedures and being hands-on, so that’s why I was initially drawn to surgical fields. But by the time I finished my surgery rotations, I was exhausted and even though I loved it, it just was not for me personally. I was a bit lost about what to do until I had my EM rotation at the very beginning of my 4th year and completely fell in love. I hadn’t had much exposure to EM throughout medical school, as typically most schools save EM for 4th year- I believe it is a core graduation requirement for most medical schools. EM residents are trained in a lot of procedures, so you get to be very hands-on but at the same time you can have a balanced lifestyle, which is much more difficult to maintain in a surgical residency. I will say it can be difficult flip-flopping between days and nights, but programs implement strategies to make these transitions easier.
    As a side note, I don’t think there is anything wrong with considering lifestyle in your decision-making process for the career you will be doing for the rest of your life. Some people look down on considering lifestyle factors in medicine, but times are changing, and people are paying more attention to burn out and wellness factors across all specialties in graduate medical education. Everyone is different in what they can handle and what they value, and you have to choose the best and most sustainable career for yourself.
    Are you happy in your residency?
    Yes, absolutely. Like I mentioned before, I love the work/life balance of EM. We work really hard during our shifts and it can be stressful and overwhelming at times. But I love working really hard and helping my patients but being relieved of my responsibilities when my shift is over knowing I am entrusting the care of my patient to another amazing resident coming on shift. I also love how I get random days off during the week to run errands. Having the day off on a Tuesday is wonderful. Everything is open, there is no traffic, and places aren’t busy during business hours. This is a (very small) definite perk for me. Don’t take the little things for granted!
    What advice do you have for medical students interested in Emergency Medicine?
    It is difficult to assess your interest in EM because like I mentioned earlier, at most medical schools, EM is a 4th year rotation. However, I encourage you to get out there and shadow! Ask your school if it would be possible for you to shadow in the ED for a shift or two. It’s not the same as actually rotating, but it can give you a bit of a taste so you can see if it is something you are interested in.
    What fellowships can you pursue after residency? Are you considering any?
    I am considering a critical care fellowship! There are plenty of other fellowships that you can do out of EM like ultrasound, wilderness medicine (how cool is that), toxicology, peds EM, hyperbaric and undersea medicine (again, how cool), emergency medical services (EMS) and disaster medicine, even hospice and palliative care medicine. There are really a lot of different routes you can take, which is great.
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