Congratulations! If you’re reading this you’ve probably matriculated into medical school and are trying to figure out which specialty might appeal to you.
If you’re considering emergency medicine, you’re in good company. Emergency medicine is a fast growing field that encompasses a wide variety of patients from all backgrounds and with a variety of pathologies.
We’ve created a roadmap to help guide students through the nuances of matching into an emergency medicine residency. As with every specialty, there are unique aspects to the field that we will mention at the relevant point in the timeline.
Please bear in mind that, although we make every effort to keep this information up to date, there are frequently changes in the process so we would not recommend relying on this page as an exclusive resource! Similarly, some of the suggestions are general and undeniably subjective. A simple search on the internet will produce thousands of opinions and anecdotes about the medical school and matching process. We would encourage you to use a variety of sources to form educated opinions on the options you face as a potential emergency medicine resident.
- Join your schools ACOEP chapter; if you don’t have one, make one! Criteria for becoming a chapter can be found here. Show off your leadership skills in your local chapter.
- Join ACOEP and other national EM organizations: #gotoaconference – as soon as your school allows. Find your next ACOEP event here.
- Find your stride. Learning in your undergraduate institution and your medical school may well be different.
- Try to maintain a place in the top half of your class.
- Start thinking about a long term project or get connected in an ongoing study that is being conducted near you.
- Long-term commitments offer great opportunities to discuss your character development and maintain your passion for helping people in a time when you are trapped at your desk.
- Get your CV straightened out now; start recording all your activities.
- Connect with a member of staff on campus. This doesn’t have to be EM if they are not available, but any mentor can help with your didactic education and potentially provide letter of recommendation for your character.
- Connect with your ACOEP board representative, find other mentors here!
- Get involved on a national level. Click here for our committee opportunities or try for one of the positions on the national board.
- Treat yourself to an EM podcast! Click here to find some excellent suggestions of places to get started.
- Crush your boards. EM is becoming evermore competitive. If you are an osteopathic student, consider whether or not you need to take the USMLE Step 1 and plan your time and budget accordingly.
- Continue to maintain your position in the top half of the class.
- Continue your project from first year, or begin to establish a relationship with the institution you will rotate with.
- Write for The Fast Track! Submit your articles here and find inspiration on what to write about here.
- Continue your long term volunteering projects. Keep track of your hours and maintain your humanistic side as the looming figure of your boards rises to greet you in the spring.
- Familiarize yourself with common EM procedures. Seek out opportunities to practice them in your other rotations. Click here for a list of sites to get you started.
- Set up your audition rotations! Start your VSAS paperwork early and apply on the day that programs begin taking applications. Research the additional files that the programs what to see, all available on the VSAS website prior to be being granted access by your school. A little preparedness goes a long way in getting your application to the right people at the right time.
- Take your core rotations seriously. These grades will significantly impact both your class rank and your Dean’s letter/medical school performance evaluation. On a far more poignant note, there is not a single type of patient that you may not be called upon to handle. From neonatology to oncology, nephrology to pulmonology, and beyond. There is something the future emergency medicine physician can learn from every patient encounter in every specialty.
- Don’t be scared to tell your attendings you’re interested in EM. My go to line was “the fact that I want to do EM means I need a good understanding of every specialty – I’m either going to be working with you to admit patients, or helping to deal with complications coming from your clinics. Help me understand what you would want from a EM doc from your perspective.” That often helped start a positive conversation and I trust it’ll work for you too.
- By this time I would hope that you’ve found some small research project to be a part of. If not, never fear, because third year brings patients, and patients bring case studies. Try and find your most interesting patient, or the one with the most to learn from each month of your rotations.
- Third year can often be away from your didactic campus, and therefore away from a lot of the volunteer locations you used during your first two years. I tried to connect with the hospital marketing department and found it was a really useful way to give back to the hospital and the community that’s giving you the opportunity to learn medicine by volunteering in hospital-driven community awareness events.
- Keep coming to conferences. The ACOEP offers a Residency Expo at every Scientific Assembly in the Fall. Here you will have the ability to get valuable face to face interactions with residents, program coordinators, and program directors to ask very specific questions about their residency programs. It cannot be emphasized enough that there is no substitute for getting to know a program than spending time around the faculty and residents.
- Be proficient in basic EM skills, where you feel deficient, check out the resources we have available.
- Academics: DO NOT fail a class now, stay on top of your school’s requirements. Take your Level 2/Step 2 as soon as you feel you are able to score at a higher percentile than your Level 1/Step 1.
- DO NOT skip out on rotations now. To get your training license in time to start your residency you need to have your diploma in hand on graduation day.
- Time to tie up loose ends and get yourself published! Find our research recommendations here.
- ERAS: Video interviews, SLOEs, match lists, and personal statements are each an article in and of themselves. The most important aspect to all of them is following the timeline provided. Do not file your paperwork late. Find the official information here.