What Are the Education Requirements for an ER Doctor?

Educational requirements for becoming an emergency room (ER) doctor usually include completion of a medical degree as well as extensive on-the-job training through hospital residency programs. Read on to learn more about the prerequisites and common curriculum for these medical degree programs.

What Do I Need to Become an ER Doctor?

In order to become an ER doctor, you'll need to earn a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.). After you earn your M.D., you'll need to complete between 2 and 6 years of residency training; you'll hone your medical skills under the supervision of licensed doctors. Residency training in an ER will teach you how to address medical issues related to trauma, toxicology, pediatrics, neurology, anesthesia and orthopedics.

After completing your residency training, you may take the United States Medical Licensing Examination. Graduates who pass this exam can obtain a license to practice medicine in the state where they plan to work.

ER Doctor Requirements M.D. degree, 2-6 years residency training, passing scores on the United States Medical Licensing Exam
M.D. Prerequisites 4-year degree with undergrad coursework in science and English, MCAT results
M.D. Curriculum Biochemistry, anatomy, physiology, clinical rotations in hospitals for hands-on experience
Median Salary (2019) $220,855 (for all ER physicians)*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 11% growth (for physicians and surgeons, all other)**

Sources: *PayScale.com, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Do I Need to Enroll in a Medical Program?

Medical school prerequisites usually include undergraduate coursework in chemistry, biology, physics and English as well as submission of Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) scores. There isn't a specific degree you need to earn as an undergraduate before applying to medical school, but most medical schools only admit students with a 4-year degree. Some students decide to apply to medical school after they've earned a graduate degree.

You can also pursue a 4-year degree in a health-related field or volunteer for a healthcare organization while earning your degree. Gaining these kinds of educational experiences may improve your chances of being accepted into a medical school.

What Will I Learn in a Medical Program?

The first year of your program usually includes foundational courses in biochemistry, psychology, anatomy, pharmacology and physiology; you'll gain the educational background needed to understand illness, injury and general health. You'll also learn how to diagnose medical conditions, monitor patients on a treatment plan and provide long-term care.

In the second or third year, you'll be expected to complete clinical rotations in multiple hospital departments, including psychiatry, surgery and family medicine. You'll work under the guidance of a licensed physician. After completing a medical program, most students enroll in a clinic-based internship prior to beginning a residency.