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EM Residents/Attendings: Which 5 electives would you recommend 4th years to take before residency?

  • Sports Medicine/Orthopaedics (primary care, non-surgical)

    Votes: 5 25.0%
  • Ophthalmology

    Votes: 9 45.0%
  • ENT

    Votes: 2 10.0%
  • Dermatology

    Votes: 4 20.0%
  • Radiology

    Votes: 9 45.0%
  • Cardiology

    Votes: 6 30.0%
  • EM Ultrasound

    Votes: 5 25.0%
  • Toxicology

    Votes: 5 25.0%
  • Anesthesiology

    Votes: 13 65.0%
  • Peds EM

    Votes: 5 25.0%

  • Total voters


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7+ Year Member
Jan 28, 2014
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What non-EM electives do you think would be useful to take 4th year (maybe ones that EM residency training doesn't give enough practice in)?

I've already done a SICU elective and am scheduled for a radiology and an EKG one, but I might still have some room for a few more 2 and/or 4 week. I've heard people say anesthesiology, derm, ophthalmology, ortho/sports med, Peds EM, Tox, ID, ultrasound, etc. And wanted to see what current attendings and residents have to say based on experience and thinking retrospectively. I am personally not looking for something super easy just for credit, but ones that can be useful to for future practice.

Please leave your thoughts in the comments and take the poll as well. If you have any specific locations of ones you'd recommend include that too. Hopefully this can benefit other students as well. Looking forwards to your thoughts. Thanks!

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All of those are good options, but I'll cast my vote with Opthalmology. Learn to use that damned slit lamp and that will be a major win.
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None of them will help you match. Maybe ophtho will give you a head start on the eye exam until they teach it in residency.
Radiology is site dependent. Peds EM is a special beast that is wholly dependent on your attending that day, even moreso than adult EM. Learning your own style as a medical student will get you branded as "cavalier" at best. Ortho, ENT, derm, cards, nah. They don't teach the EM exam. Maybe EP if you can get a ton of SVT ekgs or something. Ultrasound will be part of your curriculum.
Do whatever lets you graduate and gives you time to relax.
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Do whatever lets you graduate and gives you time to relax.

A MS4 rotation is equivalent to about three days of an EM residency. Especially since - to say it for the millionth time - EM has an approach to patients that is unique compared to everyone else. Do what you need to graduate and to match and then have fun and take the subjects you will have/little no exposure to from here on out. To make another analogy, how much did taking Physical Chemistry as an undergrad help you with Biochem in med school? Probably not much.
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Take whatever allows you to pass with spending the least amount of hours actually at work.


Nothing is going to help you be a better EM intern. You'll learn for real in residency.