Why I Can’t Do Emergency Medicine

I can’t do Emergency Medicine. I do not like the environment of the ED. I don’t feel comfortable there. It has nothing to do with the people who work there. It has everything to do with the system. Allow me to explain.

There are many great things about Emergency Medicine. For one, I love the shift work. It must be awesome to leave the office and never have to carry a pager or be on call. When you’re on, you’re on. And when you’re off, you’re off. The salary is also an overall plus for those considering it. I mention just a few of the positives of EM to make the point that there are things I do like about it.

But the reason I can’t go into EM is the system and how it is (poorly) designed. I realize that my impression of the system is based on my experiences while rotating as a medical student through local hospitals that include a level 1 trauma center and a county medical center. So the picture I have is probably not representative of all hospital EDs. But I hope to stay in the area. I would like to stay in academic medicine. So I think my sample size fits.

While rotating through medicine and surgery I would often be sent to the ED to admit a patient. While going looking for my patient, I’d have to walk through hallways and aisles lined by chairs and gurneys filled with patients watching my every move. They watched because they hoped that my eyes would meet thesis and that I would stop. I hated that feeling. I wanted to stop an help them. But I couldn’t. I had no idea what they were there for. And they weren’t someone I was asked to see.

Perhaps this is just a small thing. But to me it was huge.

The second reason I can’t see myself going into EM is that there are just so many non-emergencies. The system of healthcare we have leads to so many people coming into the emergency departments due to complaints that should be dealt with in the primary care setting — or even the urgent care setting. I can only imagine that I’d be frustrated dealing with this on a daily basis.

It may not be much. Some may see this and minimize my reasons saying that they are silly. But in the end, they are the reasons that pushed me away from emergency medicine. And it’s a personal process everyone must go through for themselves.