Emergency Medicine Specialist

Community and Health


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Emergency Medicine Specialists or Emergency Doctors are specialised, highly-trained doctors who respond to patients requiring urgent treatment. Working in hospitals and other emergency departments, these doctors may help patients and perform essential, often life-saving, treatment. Emergency physicians are trained in the important emergency medicine rule, i.e., “Rule out the worst case scenario.” The Future Growth Strong physicians and nurses of the emergency department must prioritize incoming cases quickly, ensuring that the patients with the more serious conditions are seen as soon as possible. This practice is known as triage.

Emergency Medicine Specialists provide diagnostic medical services, and manage patients with acute and urgent illness and injury. Emergency medicine specialists identify and immediately manage serious and life-threatening situations. They face a wide range of medical and surgical problems, and as such need general expertise across many areas. Their main role is to care for and stabilise critically-ill patients of all age groups.

Emergency medicine specialists are healthcare professionals who are responsible for treating patients with immediate care in emergency rooms or trauma centers. They often use their extensive knowledge of medicine to make a quick diagnosis and analyse what treatment they can administer to help the condition. They may work with patients who have had strokes, heart attacks, severe blood loss or serious injuries. These specialists are required to possess skills in advanced cardiac life support, trauma care, and management of other life-threatening conditions. They must lead a team of other medical professionals during situations that are intense and stressful while making a split second lifesaving diagnosis on their patients. Emergency medicine specialists must also maintain accurate medical records to understand the medical history of their patients.

In emergency medicine every day is different and unpredictable and specialists can encounter anything from patients with sore throats to those who have been in major accidents.

on run
(Source: Mint Physicians)

ANZSCO ID: 253912

Alternative names: Emergency Department Medical Officer, EDMO, Emergency Doctor, Emergency Physician, Emergency Specialist, Emergency Medicine Physician, ER Doctor, EM Physician,

Knowledge, skills and attributes

  • Registered or eligible for General registration as a Medical Practitioner by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).
  • At least two years post graduate experience with recent experience in critical care medicine, including Early Management of Severe Trauma (EMST) and Advanced Paediatric Life Support (APLS) qualifications.
  • Appropriate procedural skills including intubation, resuscitation and invasive monitoring.
  • Demonstrated commitment to continuing education and professional development.
  • Ability to work under pressure - Emergency doctors often have a significant level of responsibility and are required to work quickly and efficiently. They can typically cope with different demands throughout their shift and go straight from one patient to another.
  • Risk tolerance: Emergency physicians may make quick decisions about a patient's health and the appropriate treatment to administer. They may be required to take risks if they are not sure of the complete diagnosis or the person's medical background. Risk tolerance can allow emergency doctors to quickly consider all aspects of the treatment before deciding one to be the most appropriate. Most emergency physicians can cope with risk rationally, knowing that they're giving the best possible treatment to a patient in an emergency setting.
  • Communication: Emergency physicians may communicate with other doctors to discuss the best action for a particular patient. They can also communicate with patients directly and friends and family members in the waiting room who might have questions about the patient's health. As emergency physicians might speak to a range of different people, each with a varying amount of medical knowledge, these doctors may change their communication style accordingly.

At work
(Source: Your Career)


Duties and Tasks

An emergency doctor's primary duties can include:

  • Responding quickly to patients arriving in the emergency department
  • Initial assessment and management of patients presenting to the Emergency Department for care - collecting medical histories
  • Preventing any obvious life-threatening complications, such as excessive bleeding
  • Assessing patients and analysing what surgeries or other procedures they may complete as an emergency - drawing conclusions and order tests
  • Order and interpret labs, x-rays, CT's, MRI's and ultrasound.
  • Perform EKG testing and acquire patient vitals.
  • Deciding on appropriate courses of treatment
  • Completing patient surgeries
  • Emergency resuscitation
  • Placing intravenous lines
  • Noting other surgeries that the patient may need but are not urgent
  • Ensure that patients receive adequate and appropriate assessment and emergency medical care, either directly or through supervision of junior medical staff.
  • Chart patient logs on the EMR.
  • Ensure accurate and relevant documentation exists - the emergency physician is expected to fully document all cases he or she works. Patient charting can add an additional dimension to an emergency physician’s workload in a busy emergency department.
  • Evaluated and managed both medical and trauma patients with acute and chronic conditions.
  • Identify proper equipment and machine use, including goal-direct focused ultrasound to accurately diagnose and quickly resuscitate patients.
  • Perform appropriate history and physical examination to a diverse caseload of patients and order appropriate diagnostic lab work and studies.
  • Ensure that there is adequate consultation and communication of such assessment and management decisions to the appropriate registrar or consultant.
  • Use teamwork and effective communication to deliver effective health care that includes patients and family members as appropriate as members of the team.
  • Effectively treating less serious injuries, such as broken bones or lacerations.
  • Determining if patients need to be admitted to the hospital for further evaluation
  • Review of patient progress as appropriate.
  • Develop an ambulatory pediatrics curriculum for family medicine residents
  • Participate as a member of the retrieval team, to transport sick patients between facilities
  • Ensure effective referral and disposition of the patient after they leave the Emergency Department. This includes discharge letters and instructions and prescriptions as required.
  • Discharging some patients with instructions for self-treatment and follow-up with their personal care physician for additional evaluation on an outpatient basis.
  • Meet medico-legal requirements across practice areas including open disclosure.
  • Being on-call in an emergency department for when patients come in
  • Communicating with other doctors and surgeons throughout the hospital about individual patients and future treatments

emergency department 
(Source: ACEM)

Working conditions

Hospital emergency rooms are typically chaotic places. Physicians must make split-second decisions when patients present with serious, life-threatening conditions and begin treatment immediately. Working in an emergency room is one of the most taxing and challenging positions in the health care system.
Emergency medicine is highly intensive - most work opportunities are in emergency departments of public hospitals. They may have their own office or staff area, but a lot of their work may be in surgeries with patients.

The emergency department is often a hectic and pressured environment.  Their workplace can be busy and fast-paced with a lot of urgencies as many patients may need treatments at once. Emergency medicine is one of the most hands-on specialities with constant variety.

Specialists work flexible, rostered (some shift) hours with some on-call responsibilities. As emergencies can happen at any time of day, there are typically no fixed hours to being an emergency doctor. Professionals may work on shifts, including weekends and evenings. Emergency doctors may be called in at short notice or finish late if necessary. Typically, senior physicians may have slightly more structured working hours, but may still work overtime or in evenings or on weekends, especially in particularly busy times.

Employment often includes long shifts with a possible heavy caseload of potentially critically ill patients. If you are a physician who enjoys solving medical puzzles at a breakneck pace, then emergency medicine can be a rewarding and exciting career.

Specialists are not responsible for their patients once they have left the emergency department.

Emergency sign
(Source: JPS Medical Recruitment)

Tools and technologies

Emergency medicine specialists are generalists and as such need to have a broad understanding of tools and technologies needed to diagnose, resuscitate and carry out procedures for every major illness that can occur. For example, it is expected that emergency medicine specialists can:

  • interpret diagnostic imaging

  • apply pharmacological knowledge (including recent developments and reviews of drugs)

  • use knowledge to select and manage appropriate equipment.

Education and training/entrance requirements

To become an emergency medicine specialist, you must first become a qualified medical practitioner and then specialise in emergency medicine.

To become a medical practitioner, you need to study a degree in medicine. Alternatively, you can study a degree in any discipline followed by a postgraduate degree in medicine.

To qualify for Australian Emergency Specialist Training, candidates typically complete six months of experience in an emergency department in Australia or New Zealand in the year before applying. They may also complete three placements of at least eight weeks in other medical disciplines, one of which they may complete after the second postgraduate year. Many candidates take some time between their studies and beginning full-time work to acquire this experience.

To specialise in emergency medicine, doctors can apply to Australasian College for Emergency Medicine to undertake further training and ultimately receive Fellowship.

To be eligible for this specialist training, on completion of your medical degree, you must work in the public hospital system for a minimum of two years (internship and residency).

Employment Opportunities


Using AHPRA registration data, which includes those in vocational training as well as qualified Fellows, the specialties with the highest average annual growth in the number of registered medical practitioners between 2011–12 and 2016–17 were: Emergency Medicine (13.6 percent), Geriatric Medicine (10.6 percent), Medical Oncology (10.1 percent), Infectious Diseases (8.4 percent), Paediatrics and Child Health (7.4 percent), and Palliative Medicine (7 percent). The number of surgeons grew by 2.7 per cent overall, with the highest growth in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (13.2 percent), Urology (4.4 percent), and Neurosurgery (3.9 percent) (AHPRA, 2018)

Did You Know?

As an emergency doctor working for Médecins Sans Frontières [Doctors without borders ] you may be responding to and assessing medical needs after a natural disaster, treating survivors of armed conflict, or training local teams on responding to a mass casualty event. Our emergency medical work extends to neglected, forgotten diseases and long-term care for chronic conditions.


Your clinical skills and resourcefulness will be put to the test while you work in locations where the health care infrastructure may have completely fallen apart, or while you work to diagnose and treat medical conditions not found in Australia and New Zealand. Your managerial and administration skills will be called upon as you supervise large teams of local staff and manage busy emergency departments. You will not be facing these challenges alone - Médecins Sans Frontières provides expert technical support including extensive guidelines and protocols.
(Source: Medecins Sans Frontieres [Doctors without Borders/a>])


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Material sourced from
Jobs & Skills WA [
Emergency Medicine Specialist;]
Zippa [Emergency Medicine Specialist; ]
Ethical Jobs [Emergency Dept Medical Officer; ]
Indeed [Emergency Doctor; ]
Hospital Careers [Emergency Medicine; ]
Melbourne Institute [Future Health Sector Report; ]

Your Career [Emergency Medicine Specialist; ]

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