Emergency Medicine Physician: Career and Salary Facts

Explore the career requirements for emergency medicine physicians. Get the facts about the education and licensure requirements, along with average salary and the employment outlook to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Fire & Emergency Services degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Emergency Medicine Physician?

Emergency medicine physicians are doctors who specialize in stabilizing, diagnosing and treating individuals who have experienced a sudden injury or illness. They usually work in the emergency departments of hospitals and medical schools. While they are all trained to provide general acute care, some are additionally trained in a particular specialty area, such as toxicology, pediatric emergency care, hyperbaric medicine or disaster medicine. They work alongside other healthcare professionals to quickly diagnose a patient's condition and determine a course of action, which can include resuscitation, intervention, surgical procedures or transfer to another medical department.

The table below provides an outline of the general requirements for a career as an emergency medicine physician.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree prerequisite, medical degree
Education Field of Study Any program for bachelor's degree, chemistry recommended
Training Required Internship and fellowship program required
Licensure Licensure required in all states
Job Growth (2014-2024) 14% (for all physicians and surgeons)*
Average Salary (2015) $202,450 (for all physicians and surgeons)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Duties of an Emergency Medicine Physician?

As an emergency physician, you will be responsible for making quick decisions and taking crucial actions that prevent further damage to patients' health conditions in a pre-hospital environment and/or emergency department. This is accomplished by directing other emergency professionals, such as nurses, medical assistants and technicians.

It will be your responsibility to treat patients with various types of urgent conditions, such as broken bones, hemorrhaging, accidental poisoning and heart attacks. However, according to the University of South Alabama Emergency Medicine Interest Group, at least 50% of the patients you will treat may not actually be experiencing true emergencies. (www.usouthal.edu). This is because some patients may not have financial access to other medical care, or they may not want to wait for physician appointments.

What Education Is Required?

While you can earn a bachelor's degree can be in any field, including non-science related fields of study, you should take a significant number of life science courses in your undergraduate degree program before applying to medical school. Medical school admissions are highly competitive, so having some academic experience in a related field, such as chemistry, may be beneficial in securing your admittance.

Medical school lasts four years and provides you with the foundational knowledge and expertise needed for overall patient care. Upon completing medical school, you will enter an internship program, also referred to as a residency, where you will begin training specifically in emergency medicine. During the three to four years of your residency, you will gain a wide range of experience in an emergency department. Training encompasses disciplines such as adult and pediatric trauma, cardiac and surgical critical care, toxicology and medical resuscitation.

After completing your internship, you will enter a fellowship program. The duration of your fellowship will depend on the area of specialization that you choose. Ranging from one to four years, your fellowship will provide more advanced training in emergency medicine specialties, such as pediatric emergency medicine, critical care, emergency medical services, ultrasound, medical toxicology and sports medicine.

While there are no other educational requirements to become an emergency medicine physician, you must pass the U. S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) to legally practice medicine in the U.S. You must also adhere to the licensing requirements of the state you will be practicing in.

What Salary Can I Earn?

Physicians and surgeons earned an average salary of $202,450 in 2015, and employment growth over the 2014-2024 decade is projected at 14%, according to the BLS. Your actual salary will be determined by varying factors, such as your experience and where you work.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Physician jobs are available in a wide range of other specializations. Those who are interested in high-stakes, fast-paced care may look for jobs as surgeons, while those looking for a slower pace may want to pursue a job as a family doctor or psychiatrist. Another possible job in the medical field is a career as a physician assistant. These professionals work closely with doctors to diagnose and treat patients, and they may find jobs in emergency departments. To work as a physician assistant, it is necessary to hold a master's degree and pass a licensure exam.

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