SDN members see fewer ads and full resolution images. Join our non-profit community!

Why do ER docs burn out so quickly?

Discussion in 'Emergency Medicine' started by Toejam, Jul 2, 2002.

  1. Toejam

    Toejam Terminal Student 7+ Year Member

    May 12, 2002
    35 miles from Pomona
    I'm considering ER as my specialty, but am a little concerned about the rumors of a high burnout rate.

    Anyone have any theories? Is it true?
  2. SDN Members don't see this ad. About the ads.
  3. Mindy

    Mindy Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Jun 10, 2001
    My understanding is that burn-out pre-dated the specialization of emergency medicine. In essence, people dissatisfied with their own specialties or in search of additional funds often staffed emergency rooms (GPs, internists) either full-time or through moonlighting. Now that the specialty is a true career option, rather than a medical cast-off, people are generally happier. This is at least the theory as I know it, whether or not it is true is another story...

  4. droliver

    droliver Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    May 1, 2001
    Reasons frequently cited for burnout include:

    - stress/high liability. The # of days off and lack of call, attracts some people, but 12 hr+ shifts in busy ER's is very hard work. In addition, some practioners I knew have worked 20-25 days/month of 12 hour shifts for the income. I can only imagine how fried you'd get doing that for any length of time. The potential for every visit to be a missed diagnosis (with the associated liability) is another reason I've heard cited.

    - frustration with their role. I have talked to some mid career attendings who feel like they are "the world's largest FP clinic". The diffulculty in finding accepting physicians and subspecialty consultants in some areas can also be a source of angst and is an increasing problem even in some metropolitan areas I understand.

    - Job insecurity. In large parts of the country, the relationship b/w the ER physicians & the hospitals is somewhat mercenary, with frequent turnover of staffing physician groups for contractual reasons. One of my fellow residents has a friend who trained @ Emory (a great ER program BTW) who ended up moving b/w 3 different hospital systems in South Florida in 12 months for this type of situation. The job situation in this respect can vary greatly however, with some groups having stable long-term relationships (it varies dramatically by region my friend in ER say)

    - I've also heard complaints that ER physicians feel expendable or less important to hospital administrations than staff physicians & even nurses in some situations.

    I understand there are some papers that show that more recently trained ER physicians may have less of the burn-out that was well known in the past, but I can't imagine that there is a whole lot of long-term follow up on these yet as most training programs are fairly young. At least during their training, my cohorts have seemed pretty happy where I'm doing my training with fairly short work weeks and hours (they are expected to moonlight, and many make $65-80k/year during training which is pretty good coin). Whether they feel the same way after they're out of the safety net of a 24/7 staffed tertiary center, we'll have to see.
  5. Ligament

    Ligament Interventional Pain Management Physician Lifetime Donor SDN Advisor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    I am currently an ER intern and I can tell you that you had better like doing community medicine. Even though I am in a busy Level 1 trauma center in Chicago, a very large percentage of the patients really belong in a community health clinic rather than an ER.

    Also, keep in mind that at many ERs, the traumas are totally handled by a trauma team, not the ER staff. So if you fancy yourself managing MVAs or gunshot wounds you should seriously consider a trauma fellowship after a surgery residency.

    That said, we do see true emergencies about 40% of the time and that is cool. I personally hate community indigent medicine and bread and butter family medicine (sore throat, OM, fevers) and for that reason alone I have trouble tolerating EM.

    If you have never done a rotation at an inner city community clinic you should do one as this is the population you will treat a large percentage of the time at any urban/suburban ER.

    Also I notice that the average time an attending spends directly interacting with a ER patient seem to be less than five minutes. I personally went into a specialty where I can spend tons of time with my patients: PM&R.

    But, if you like the above stuff and want some action thrown in with true emergecies EM may be for you. Do a rotation.

    I really respect ER docs, so no offense intended.

  6. md03

    md03 Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Feb 24, 2000
    I seriously considered ER as a specialty until recently. Some of the reasons why I ruled it out are also reasons why it has high burnout.

    Yes, it is nice to be either on or off duty. But often ER docs work rotating shifts (a period of time on morning shift, then to afternoon for a while then weeks on night shift. Then rotate again)

    As one of our faculty recently said, ER is the only speicalty where the physcian is mandated by federal law to see all patients that show up. No other specialty is required to do this. There are a large number of patients out there that can tax the patience of the most patient person. They will show up at 3am on a Sat night for things like lice, and complain LOUDLY that they have to wait while you deal with true emergencies. The ER doc can only try to be nice, smile and apologize for the wait, and try to make friendly. The ER doc also has to see patients who are blatantly noncompliant with their baseline therapy, and try to fix them up and find someone to admit if necessary, even after the patient has pissed off every MD in town (patients must assume some responsibility for their own care, and many refuse to do so. These patients can be dismissed from the practice of any other specialty than ER)

    Like a previous poster said, less than half of what an ER doc sees is truly an emergency. Most of the patients have problems that are more appropriately handled by a primarcy care doc (and many of these do NOT have access or insurance problems, many are on medicaid and have an entitlement mentality) In addition, ER docs are often looked down upon by all other specialties, and take flak from the admitting docs on other speicalties when the ER doc thinks a paient needs to be admitted. The ER doc is also an employee of the hospital, at the mercy of the hospital administration. If "too many" patients go to the administration to complain about the ER doc, s/he can be fired. ("Too many" could be even just 1 a month...someone with a minor complaint upset about waiting, and you didn't coddle them enough)

    I decided that I could not put up with the drawbacks of ER. Having said all that, if I had to do ER I would probably do peds ER at a children's hospital. Though parents can be demanding, you don't see as much of the self inflicted, and frankly, stupid things that you do with adults.
  7. godfather

    godfather Member 10+ Year Member

    Oct 13, 2001
    i just got done with what was suppose to be a 10 hour(ended up staying for 12 hours) shift at a level 1 trauma center in detroit. this is my 3rd straight month of working in this er. the first 2 months as 4th hear med student and this month as a first year resident. i strongly considered er as a career, but am really glad that i didn't. Ie, I AM ALREADY SICK OF IT. Of the 30 patients out team saw in our module (of which i saw like 10), 2 were a true emergency(surgical abdomens, which were promptly handled by SURGERY). the rest of the patients were people that would have normaly been seen by a fp had they any money. There were 3 gunshot wounds of which our er team was assigned 1, and guess what in that one we got to undress the patient, and once again stepped back so the TRAUMA SURGERY team could immediately take over. The amount of time doing paperwork and than dictating each chart is ridiculous.( the attending stayed 2 1/2 hours after his shift ended doing this.) of the 30 patients about 10 were already known to the er docs, as these were your chronic i don't have a doctor, i don't give a **** about myself, give me my narcotics, crowd. another 4 or 5 drunks, another 4 or 5 asthmatics, and throw in your 3 or 4 stds, and the rest who have so many vague complaints that you know your not going to find out what the hell is wrong with them, and you have the world's largest FAMILY PRACTICE CLINIC.
    I haven't even gotten into the many problems the attending has, such as the patient who needs admission to save the the er doc's ass from liability, but whom he knows that no private attending will take, and the staff floor attendings are going to chew his ass out if he admits them to their service. this is in particular a problem if your a young attending, dealing with an older floor attending, because he's going to give you that look that's basically saying what cow dung medical school did you attend. Also these 10 hour shifts do not go by fast. i mean you are regardless of if your busy or not exausted at the end of the shift. i mean whether you've seen 1 or 30 patients the clock just moves so damn slowly. however we do get our 8 days off for the month and my attending who is a young guy does drive a jag. so there are ups, but it definately is not for everybody.
    community_college_rox likes this.
  8. Toejam

    Toejam Terminal Student 7+ Year Member

    May 12, 2002
    35 miles from Pomona
    Truly excellent info., people! Thanks! You've all got me rethinking the whole enchilada.
  9. danny_husk

    danny_husk Junior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jun 8, 2001
    I'm not really saying anything that hasn't been posted but from what I hear, a lot of the young burn out has to do with people entering the field thinking it's all trauma and emergency when in reality it's a great deal primary care oriented.

    One of the posts mentioned moonlighting. I was wondering if this is still common and if so what specialties do it.
  10. Goofy

    Goofy Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Nov 20, 2001
    United States Of America
    I think the amount of time actually spent on 'true emergencies' in this discipline is much much lower than the above estimates. I too considered this as a career choice, attracted by a seemingly good lifestyle (not), and opportunity to handle emergency. What I learned was that those ten hour shifts were more like 12+ and a life of permanent jetlag. Additionally, I learned that actually emergency exposure hovered somewhere around 10% or less. For me, ER represented an acute form of FP relocated into an emergency with much more rigid schedules, and much less personal flexibility.

    community_college_rox likes this.
  11. Mindy

    Mindy Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Jun 10, 2001
    I think that this thread would be more useful (or at least more rounded) if we heard from those who chose EM as a specialty, rather than from those who have ruled it out.
  12. Hornet871

    Hornet871 Senior Member 15+ Year Member

    May 22, 2002
    To Ligament:
    I was confused by one part of your post. First you said that you're an EM intern, and later, that you're doing PM&R. Are you doing an EM intern year before doing three years of PM&R residency? Which programs offer EM intern years?

    To Dr. Oliver:
    Where, pray tell, is this EM residency that has short hours and expects residents to moonlight and make ~$80k per year? I'd like to know so I can apply. Send me a PM! (I'd send you one, but my computer won't allow me - I keep getting an error message - or maybe I'm just computer illiterate).

    To the others, incl Dr. Oliver and Ligament:
    Thanks for your input!

  13. Dr JPH

    Dr JPH Banned Banned 10+ Year Member

    Feb 4, 2000
    Hornet...PMs aren't working until after the system is updated on Thursday.

    Anyway...I currently work as a technician in a small city community hospital. The hospital is a private hospital in a very affluent area of this city with a fairly wealthy patient population in the surrounding towns.

    Despite this, I would say a good 40% of the patients are the typical "give me drugs because I have no other place to go" crowd, another 40% are elderly with difficulty breathing or chest pain, and the rest are true ER cases.

    I can see why the ER docs could get burned out. They are constantly seeing the same faces. They work in a high stress atmosphere...the lack of scheduling patients can lead to a large influx of patients in a short time...and when there is this large influx of patients, the lab and x-ray are backed up and this causes more delays.

    Despite all of this, I still keep my interest in the work.

    I like being a detective. I like different things...the same signs and symptoms can be very different things in 2 patients. I also like the camraderie among the ER staff. Everyone puts up with the same BS.

    I agree with what other people said. Do a rotation in a busy ER.
    community_college_rox likes this.
  14. fourthyear

    fourthyear Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    May 29, 2002
    Hey, can I present the other side? I want to do EM and I am currently doing my 4th year rotation at a very busy urban Level I trauma center with a huge indigent patient population. Why did I want to do EM? I paid close attention to what I liked about my 3rd year clinical rotations and everything pointed me this way.

    On my surgery rotation, although I loved trauma surgery, I loved seeing the pt come in and the idea of doing the immediate stabalizing of the pt. When I was scrubbed in the OR and the trauma pager went off, I wished I could go down and see the new patient coming in and find out what happened to them. Trauma surgery is cool, but the coolest part happens in the ED when the EM and Surgery team work together to stabalize and evaluate the pateint, after that the surgeons are stuck standing in one spot for 10 hours sewing one person back together.

    I actually LIKED my Family Practice rotation a lot b/c of the variety of complaints and that there was always that chance of a really interesting case being hidden amongst the routine problems. And I looked forward to my on-call days on Medicine, Peds, and OB/Gyn (certainly NOT b/c of the long hours of overnight call plus working the day preceeding and the day after call), but b/c I loved getting NEW patients and was bored as could be when I saw the same pt for 5 days straight watching the slow progress of their treatment.

    Now in the ED i'm still loving it - even the smelly patients oozing pus or blood I really enjoy taking care of b/c it just feels so rewarding to be able to provide medical care to people who need it most. I was a teacher before I went to med school, so maybe I'm more of a person who really gets a kick out of serving the community.

    I agree, however, that EM is not for everyone, so if you are doing it just for the money or the days off or whatever, please do one of the many other specialites that affords these benefits (rads, anes, derm, pmr, optho, to name a few) b/c I'm trying to match this year and dont' need people competing with me in the match who will end up not wanting to work in an ED anyway. :)
    community_college_rox likes this.
  15. fourthyear

    fourthyear Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    May 29, 2002
    Now let me stand up for the patients, whom many of you make sound like they are not even humans deserving of prompt medical care

    I find that, yeah a few pts do complain about wait and act up, the great majority at our hospital are truly appreciative of the care they get, even if they wait many hours for it - maybe it's b/c they're not paying for it at the hospital I'm at.

    As for non-compliance with meds - most pts dont' take them b/c they CAN'T AFFORD MEDICATIONS - not b/c they dont' want to take care of themselves. And many of these people DO WORK full time, sometimes several jobs, but in jobs where there is not medical coverage benefits. Not everyone's daddy was a doctor and has the opportuinty to go to college and make big money. The situation of health care, espeiclaly Rx drug plans and availabilty of primary care physicians to poor people needs some sort of major overhaul - if you want to hide from these problems in your private practice that accepts only insured patients, go for it. But please don't blame the pateints for choosing to pay rent or buy thier kids food over buying the $100 Rx you wrote them.

    I think it's sad that they have to come to the ER and wait all day to see a doctor - but for many people that is their only option.
    community_college_rox likes this.
  16. Drlove9701

    Drlove9701 Member 7+ Year Member

    May 23, 2002
    Under the full moon
    4thyear, very well said...this board is filled with too many people that cannot comprehend the fact that medication can be a luxury to some people, the fact that some actually have to choose between feeding their family, or filling out pescriptions... obiviously, most people on this board have never been in that situation, including myself, but as healthcare students/workers, the LEAST we can do is empathize with those less fortunate... and those people that are simply searching for medications b/c of addictions, are not making your life any more difficult, we chose to get into healthcare, so suck it with it, your job is to help people heal, mentally and physically...its not always about the glamorous truama cases, sometimes its just about educating patients about the importance of sticking to their medication...or helping them seek treatments for their addictions.
  17. New Member

    Jul 22, 2002
    Erie, PA
    Thank you fourth year for your standing up for EM.

    I am a first year med student... so my perspective may change in a few years. However, I have spent 3 years working as a PCT in a level 1 trauma center and have truly enjoyed it.

    The one thing that I love about the ER is the camraderie. It is incredible. From the attending physicians down to the cleaning crew, we need everyone. If one person doesn't do there job, it affects the whole system. There is such a sense of pride there for everyone. If you are looking for a place to power trip and give orders, find somewhere else to hang out, people working in the ER will tell you where to stick it. All of us can be pretty cocky and no one is going to kiss your a**. However, if you like being part of a team, you will find yourself right at home in any ER. Just remember that you are merely one part of the whole team and you will get along great.

    Another thing I love about the ER is that you are never lacking for a story. Everyday is entertaining. If you keep a positive attitude, you will find much of your work quite enjoyable and comical. My friends will often ask me to tell ER stories and I can go on and on. From comedy to horror to gruesome to fright to inspiration, you will find it all in the ER.

    If I could give one drawback, it would be that you rarely see the happy ending. It is a continuous packaging and triaging and sending patients off to where they need to be. By the time you have one patient stable, there is another disaster for you to clean up. It is really your team that drives you to keep going. If you can deal without patient follow-up, the ER is not a bad place to be.

    You see many people at the lowest points in their life...mentally, physically, spiritually, and psychologically. If you are the type to encourage and motivate others, you can be a great asset to Emergency Medicine.

    ER is not for the fainthearted. It is not cut and dry. It is not for the complainer. Things don't always go your way in the ER. But if you like the challenge of fighting the system and helping those that most of society has turned their back on, step inside and enjoy the ride. It is a rush!
    community_college_rox likes this.
  18. predoc

    predoc Member 10+ Year Member

    Apr 15, 2000
    I too am only a first year med student, but, I have worked as an EMT in a relatively busy ER for the past three years. I have to agree 100% with "Go Broncos". EM is definately not for everyone. But, I think it is for me. I have the luxury of knowing that the majority of cases are mainly FP. But, I really enjoy dealing with the drunks that come in. I like the psych patients. I love the adrenaline rush that comes with a serious emergency. To me, that all outways the cons.

    What's more, I believe there is a different mentality that is drawn to emergency medicine. Almost all the ER docs I know are simply a pleasure to be around (most of the time). And the nurses, especially on night shift, make working just a little more tolerable.

    My mind may change a few times with each rotation that I enter. But, for now, I can't wait to be an ER doc.
    community_college_rox likes this.
  19. DocWagner

    DocWagner Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Aug 1, 2002
    People burn out in every profession and each reason is individual. Surgeons hate the malpractice. IM docs hate the call. FP hates the reimbursement. Psych hate their patients.

    EM docs, if residency trained and board certified, have many many options of geographic location and hours. Though this all depends on years experience, the fact that I can work 40-50 hours a week and start off making >160,000 K is rather nice. And that estimate is rather conservative.

    Burn out happens, but for those well is preventable.
    community_college_rox likes this.
  20. bigfrank

    bigfrank SDN Donor 7+ Year Member

    Feb 20, 2002
    Yes, it seems that the greatest percentage of "burnout" is due to the fact that people watch the NBC show "ER" too much. Contrary to populary belief, 95% of your patients will not be blunt force trauma, etc.

    If you go into EM with the mindset that 75-80+% of your patients will be drunk, suicidal, FP-patients, etc., your chance of 'burnout' is much less. Being realistic always helps....

    Best of luck.

    community_college_rox likes this.
  21. jhug

    jhug 1K Member 10+ Year Member

    Nov 11, 2001
    Valley o' the sun
    so how much longer is it to get into a trauma surgery program?? EM is 3-4 years from what i can find, is the surgery part an extra year or 2??? Those have to be two of my three favorite things-- trauma and surgery!
  22. Whisker Barrel Cortex

    Whisker Barrel Cortex 1K Member 10+ Year Member

    Aug 10, 2001
    Trauma surgery is a fellowship after a 5-7 year general surgery residency (otherwise known as hell to many people I know). I'm not sure how long the fellowship is, probably 2 years. You CANNOT do trauma surgery after an ER residency.
  23. emedpa

    emedpa GlobalDoc 10+ Year Member

    Aug 25, 2001
    Taking an Away team....
    actualy, you can do a trauma/critical care fellowship as an emergency med physician. here is info on the 3 fellowships:
    Trauma/Critical Care


    Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre
    University of Toronto
    Michael J. Schull, MD
    Emergency Department Fellowship Program
    Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre
    c/o Dr. Michael Schull, Fellowship Coordinator
    G-147, 2075 Bayview Avenue
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4N 3M5
    Phone: (416) 480-4037 Fax: (416) 480-6048
    Email: [email protected]
    Categories available: Trauma, Research, EMS (air or land) Clinical Emergency Medicine Length: 1 Year
    (maybe renewed up to three years if enrolled in research courses leading to post-graduate degree)
    Salary: $55,000 (CDN) per annum plus benefits
    No. of Positions: Variable (minimum one)
    Start Date: July 1st of each year
    Deadline: November 1st of year prior to start date (late applications may be considered; contact


    University of Illinois
    Joseph P. Wood, MD, JD
    University of Illinois, Chicago
    Christ Hospital & Medical Center
    Department of Emergency Medicine
    4440 W. 95th Street
    Oaklawn, Il 60453
    Phone: (708) 346-5375 Fax: (708) 346-1028
    Email: [email protected]
    Length: 12 months
    Salary: $65,0000
    No. of Positions: 1
    Deadline: January 31


    University of Maryland
    Wade Gaasch, MD; Thomas Scalea, MD
    R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center
    419 W. Redwood St., Ste 280
    Baltimore, MD 21201
    Phone: (410) 328-8025 Fax: (410) 328-8028
    Length: 1-2 years
    Salary: Negotiable
    No. of Positions: 2
    Deadline: Open
  24. brats800

    brats800 cheesehead Physician 10+ Year Member

    Apr 16, 2003
    so i'm interested in EM and would love to hear what some of the current people in the forum thinks about the whole 'burnout' topic. i still hear that EM has a relatively high burnout rate. how do you all who DID choose EM stay positive day in and out and not get burned out? EM sure seems sweet (the work they do interests me, not just the $ or hours...although not being on call is a major plus). so yeah, whatever info you all could give would be much appreciated. :)
  25. DrQuinn

    DrQuinn My name is Neo Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Dec 6, 2000
    Perhaps re-read this thread? Your questions seem to haven't been answered in this year+ old thread, but do a search fo rit... the high "burn out" rate is an old-ish philosophy before the majority of EM attendings were EM trained...

    Q, DO
  26. anonymousEM

    anonymousEM Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Oct 25, 2002
    trauma/critical care is a fellowship (2-3 years i think?) after 5 years of surgery. I agree with the previous poster who noted that in a program where the ED plays a role in traumas, we get to do all the glamourous stuff you see on TV then the surgeons take them upstairs, operate all night, then round on them for the next two weeks....meanwhile I"m working on the next chest tube, intubation, sore throat, and belly pain.

    I love what I do and the fact that each patient i see is a new challenge. My favorite part of caring for urban patients that frequent our university county level one is that many of our patients have myriad untreated comorbidities and it ensures that no presentation is textbook and many end stage sick sick patients end up on my doorstep to be deciphered. I'm sure that by the end of residency there won't be much I don't know how to approach!

    As for the original question,One of my attendings recently quoted a newer article about burnout looking at Residency Trained EM physicians...the newer numbers showed a lot of turnover was related to physicians not knowing what they were getting into and not knowing the right questions to ask when getting into their first job out of residency. This was leading to lots of turnover because people weren't happy with their ability to become partner in groups, how billing was done on their behalf etc. Things that noone had to worry aobut in residency. Again as the specialty ages, these things are being addressed and people are happier.
  27. Sessamoid

    Sessamoid 1K Member 10+ Year Member

    Sep 11, 2003
    Los Angeles
    I never read this thread, since it was dead a year before I found these forums. I'm amazed at how many non-EM trained people chimed in. I don't go waltzing off to the IM forum and tell them how much their specialty sucks. I don't know why people feel the need to do that here. That said, we must be real miracle workers, because as this thread demonstrates we're able to raise the dead!

    I'm only 2.5 years out of residency at this point, so I can't speak to any personal experience as to long-term burn out. I'm not feeling it if that's any relief. The money is good, the work is interesting, and we don't get shat upon nearly like some of our previous MEDICAL STUDENT posters have claimed. Those previous posters assumed that the situation at their particular institution must be how it works out here in the private world. Guess what? It's not.

    As far as respect goes, there are always some older docs who aren't used to competant EM physicians who try to give us crap. Sometimes they have to be put in their place and realize that we are all colleagues. I've hung up the phone on rude consultants in the middle of phone conversations until they can be more civil. They also realize that if they're on the call schedule and they piss me off, I can document ANYTHING I WANT regarding our conversation about the patient. "Dr. X still refuses to evaluate patient after being explained nature of pt's problem." Doesn't look good in court. Generally, we all understand we're in the same boat. If it sinks, we all sink. After one conversation to clear the air, there generally aren't any further problems.

    The vast majority of my consulting physicians and surgeons are quite pleasant, appropriately professional, and appreciative of the service we provide them (i.e. we allow them to go back to sleep in the middle of the night after a brief phone call). I'm on a first name basis with most of the physicians and surgeons who are usually on-call, and I don't think that's unusual.
  28. jazz

    jazz Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Sep 23, 2003
    Good point sessamoid -- I've never even entered the other forums b/c I don't have anything I could contribute regarding practicing im, surg, whatever. I almost feel that people who repeatedly put down emergency medicine must not be happy in their own fields. I'm happy with promoting emergency medicine to those considering it. I'm also glad that others love im/surg/psych/etc because like I've said on a different post, someone's gotta do it.

    to answer a few things in the md03's post -- md03 mentionned that the schedule sucks. well, for a lot of us, the flexibility of shift work appeals to us. not everyone wants to work everyday and be on call every few nights.

    in addition, the same poster mentionned that if patients are painful in the middle of the night and demanding, the ER doc has to make friendly. i work in an urban er and i can tell you that patients that are rude, obnoxious are put back into place. if they can't stop disturbing people, we can and do have security come and escort them out.

    finally md03 says that the er doc is the employee of the hospital. not always the case. there are many different formats which i don't know too much about yet (being a resident) but i know not everyone is an employee of the hospital.

    i think the wrong people to answer the question regarding burnout are people who did not choose this field (especially as demonstrated by md03 who got most of the facts wrong). it's good for everyone that for instance, md03, did not go into er because s/he would not be happy and i could possibly get stuck working with him/her.

    unfortunately this thread is so old that i'm sure md03 is no longer following this thread and that the original poster probably has already been scared out of er. it's too bad if OP were interested. anyhow, hopefully for those reading this thread and considering er, they will see that those PRACTICING or TRAINING in the field love it.
  29. DrQuinn

    DrQuinn My name is Neo Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Dec 6, 2000
    Sessy and Jazz are right...

    those that choose EM LOVE IT! Although I am butt a lowly EM intern (who has done one unit, one ward, and one Trauma Surgery month), I cannot wait to get back into the ED. Shift work, getting off when my shift is off, not working 36 hours straight, no writing on the same patient about hte same CBC or the same blood culture... *sigh*

    I expect burnout will be MUCH MUCH lower (probably lower than most non-subspecialty pracitces) soon because most of the EM attendings are now EM trained, whereas twenty years ago it was FP/IM/OB/GYN etc who worked in the ED, and weren't formally trained in it, and did not initially WANT to be in EM (most people who are EM trained now knew they wanted it!).

    Q, DO
  30. ispic

    ispic Get there! 10+ Year Member

    Jan 12, 2003
    Thanks guys,

    This thread has been an awesome read :) I've been trying to follow up on the EM topic, including a post here and there for the past few months. Now as an MS I, I'm really beginning to appreciate all the input that's been provided and seeing how it relates to me while deciding where I will eventually end up. I have also worked in several ED's during my undergrad and I generally did not notice the "burn-out" that the other posters have complained about. There were some tense moments here and there, but generally, the ED staff really got along well and supported each other. For some time now, I've been considering EM and all of the advice posted has been helpful. Thanks again and keep up the good work :clap: :clap: :clap:
  31. DrQuinn

    DrQuinn My name is Neo Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Dec 6, 2000
    Good luck in your M1 year. Keep your options open, keep your head in the books, but keep your head above water (i.e. go out for a brewski or a Japanesey Massage every once in a while).

    Q, DO
  32. brats800

    brats800 cheesehead Physician 10+ Year Member

    Apr 16, 2003
    thanx for the responses everyone! i pulled this out (yes, having read it first, Q)....just to see what those of you who have written other posts i have read had to say about the subject...the thread was so old i didn't know anyone but didn't want to start a new one with the same question ;) so thanx. your answers were along the lines of what i was guessing.
  33. spyderdoc

    spyderdoc Physician Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 15+ Year Member

    Jul 30, 2002
    SF Bay Area
    Don't forget that they got to have their cigarettes and beer too!
  34. FoughtFyr

    FoughtFyr SDN Lifetime Donor Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

    Mar 19, 2003
    It is interesting to note that "fourthyear", the author of the original quote, is now a surgical resident...

    Really, I just do boob jobs so I can afford to do the important reconstructive work that comes along!

    My prediction - Michael J. Fox plays "fourthyear" in the movies. Wait, he already did! :p

    - H
  35. roja

    roja 7+ Year Member

    Oct 20, 2003
    NYC--->San Francisco
    I am also in my first year of EM residency. And I absolutely LOVE it. I never considered EM in medical school. (I was set to do pediatric rhuematology) Even as premed, I never volunteered in an ER because I always said that I wasn't goign to be an ER doc.

    Only at the end of my 3rd year when I didn't really know what I wanted to do and was bored on medicine, did I really even start thinking about it. I had enjoyed my 2 weeks of trauma surgery but new the surgical lifestyle wasn't for me. A fellow student wanted to do em and we started hanging out in the ER. He was very enthuisiastic and I started getting interested. I started talking to the ER attendings (some medicine trained, some surgical some ER) and really liked what I heard. So I did a rotation and absolutely loved it.

    If you look at the burn out issues, those tend to be doctors trained in other areas working in ER's. since residency became the norm, the burn out rate is no higher. You do have to be careful and make sure you aren't working to many shifts a month (tempting because of all the per diem money)

    But I love all of ER. Not knowing if your day is going to be 'clinic' day or 'trauma' day or some of both. Some day is Gyn day. What I love about the ER is the diversity. You will see it all. And yes, you see a lot of clinic type stuff. But it is up to you to decide if the patient needs to come in. This is huge. No one should be dismissed lightly! Er is very different from the rest of medicine where differentials are based on most common to least common. In ER the difference is the differential is based on 'what is going to kill this patient'.

    So, I don't know. I still love it. I get home sick for the ER when I am off service.

    If you go in to ER thinking it is like the tv show, you will be sorely disappointed. I think if you are considering it, you should do a rotation. Most people I know are pretty certain about how they feel about it. They either love it or hate it.
  36. tum

    tum don't call it a comeback 10+ Year Member

    Mar 2, 2003
    the liability issue that dr oliver mentioned worries me--one of the professors at our school used to be a full time er attending who now works only about 6 shifts a month and spends most of his time teaching. most of what he teaches is evidence based medicine--he became kind of obsessed with it after he made some poor calls for tests, and now he's real unsure of what he's doing.

    granted, this guy is kind of an exception--he's pretty scatterbrained and loses track of himself, but how much is liability an issue? and is going in the opposite direction a problem? (ie. just sticking straight to protocols to avoid getting in trouble, even when you might want to go a different direction)

    also, one of the earlier posters mentioned that all they were able to was 'get the guy's clothes off' [sic] before the trauma team took over. this is a bit hard to swallow--am i just not good at catching sarcasm online? my only experience is at an academic center--are community hospitals run differently?
  37. omniatlas

    omniatlas Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Jun 1, 2001
    Brisbane, Australia
    Good read. Thanks for the info :thumbup:
  38. Pontifex Maximus

    Pontifex Maximus Rads-a-palooza Physician 10+ Year Member

    Mar 18, 2003
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Solid 7 year old thread bump. Come on, you've been here 8 years, you should know better.
  39. ccfccp

    ccfccp Stays crunchy in milk! 7+ Year Member

    Aug 12, 2007
    Tourist Mecca, USA
    C'mon... it's not even six years old (since the last post)... and we get a blast from the past from DrQuinn "the lowly intern" :)
  40. omniatlas

    omniatlas Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Jun 1, 2001
    Brisbane, Australia
    Yes, and 7 years ago I wasn't even pre-med. Your point?
  41. Dr.McNinja

    Dr.McNinja Nobel War Prize Winner Moderator Physician Faculty 10+ Year Member

    Aug 2, 2006
    Then why were you registered here of all places?
    He just said most people don't bump 7 year old threads. Although it is better than starting a new one. I suppose.
  42. omniatlas

    omniatlas Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Jun 1, 2001
    Brisbane, Australia
    Nah, I registered out of interest back then, I wasn't a pre-med until about 6 years ago.

    Didn't know there was a bump policy but if there is, someone please enlighten me. Dr.McNinja, Pontifex Maximus?
  43. Arcan57

    Arcan57 Junior Member 10+ Year Member

    Nov 21, 2003
    Considering recent posts, bumping a thread that's been dead for years or was started 15 minutes ago will both occasion comment. And here I was thinking that this thread was going to advance the theory that ED docs burn out quickly secondary to our consumption of flammable liquids.
  44. Jeff698

    Jeff698 EM/EMS nerd 15+ Year Member

    Aug 11, 2000
    Salado, Texas
    Well... considering those jalepenos I just ate and the 105 degree weather down here, we may be on to something.

    Or it could just be the infestation of life-force-stealing-soul-sucking-fibromyalgia-chronic-pain-having-dementors-from-hell.

    Tough call. Could go either way.

    Take care,
  45. Pontifex Maximus

    Pontifex Maximus Rads-a-palooza Physician 10+ Year Member

    Mar 18, 2003
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Eh, if you've gone back to like page 1 of the EM threads to read a post, you probably shouldn't bump if you're gonna add nothing to it.

    105 degrees? Why am I even considering applying to Texas programs? good god.
  46. Arcan57

    Arcan57 Junior Member 10+ Year Member

    Nov 21, 2003
    It was in the mid-90's last week here, and one of our friends from residency was visiting from Houston. She commented several times how much cooler it felt in Memphis. Since I was dripping sweat after walking 100 feet, I didn't really appreciate the mild weather.
  47. GeneralVeers

    GeneralVeers Globus Hystericus Physician 10+ Year Member

    Mar 19, 2005
    Las Vegas
    The light that shines the brightest burns out the quickest.
  48. Jeff698

    Jeff698 EM/EMS nerd 15+ Year Member

    Aug 11, 2000
    Salado, Texas
    Are you saying we're all replicants?


    Take care,
  49. GeneralVeers

    GeneralVeers Globus Hystericus Physician 10+ Year Member

    Mar 19, 2005
    Las Vegas
    I think some of my co-workers are.
  50. CremasterFlash

    CremasterFlash Born yesterday. 7+ Year Member

    May 27, 2006
    The Mothership.
  51. southerndoc

    southerndoc life is good Physician Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

    Jun 6, 2002
    I can never figure out why people insist on bumping threads that have recent replies.

    Bumping threads should happen if a specific question isn't answered after a week, not a few hours.

Share This Page