Career Advising

Specialty Choice: Emergency Medicine

Emergency Medicine

Emergency medicine is the medical specialty dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of unforeseen illness or injury. It encompasses a unique body of knowledge as set forth in the Model of the Clinical Practice of Emergency Medicine. The practice of emergency medicine includes the initial evaluation, diagnosis, treatment, coordination of care among multiple providers and disposition of any patient requiring expeditious medical, surgical or psychiatric care. (Source: American College of Emergency Medicine)

Associated Societies

Quick Facts

The following information comes from the National Resident Matching Program's Charting Outcomes in the Match 2014 (PDF)  based on matched applicants in the United States.    

Advice for MS1 and MS2 Students

Q: What particular activities should first and second year students get involved with who are interested in pursuing this specialty?

Start getting involved with EM groups (EMIG, etc.) at Boonshoft and EM societies in general, as well as reading EM journals and shadowing in the ED. Having early involvement in EM on your CV will help during the residency process.

Q: Are research experiences important in your specialty?

They are important, but not essential.

Q: If so, do these need to be specialty specific research experiences?


Q: Does class rank matter?

Not particularly, but doing well in the first two years of medical school is always looked on favorably during residency interviews and prepares you to do well on your Step 1 exam. You’ll also want high grades in your medicine and surgery clerkships during third year. 12 percent of U.S. applicants who match are AOA members.

Advice for MS3 and MS4 Students

Q: When should I ask for letters of recommendation (LORs)?

Ideally you should ask for letters in May but absolutely no later than July, allowing your letter writers adequate time to upload your letter prior to the ERAS application submission date of September 15. Your personal statement and CV should be ready as well as many letter writers will request this in order to write you a strong letter.

Q: How many LORs do you need?

Three or four.

Q: Is a letter from a chair required?


Q: Do all letters need to be written by members of this specialty?

No, but two Standardized Letters of Evaluation (SLOEs) are ideal. A SLOE can only be written by an emergency medicine physician. The SLOE is written as a departmental letter at Boonshoft School of Medicine during your EM rotation, so an away rotation must be done to get a second SLOE.

Q: Do any letters need to be written by external institutions?

Yes, to get a second SLOE.

Q: Does your Step 2 CK score matter?

Yes, failing Step 1 or 2 will make it very difficult to match in EM.

Q: What electives would you recommend for someone who is interested in pursuing this specialty?

EM, ICU Sub-I, Cardiology, Pulmonary, Dermatology, Infectious Disease, Anesthesiology.

Q: Should a student interested in this specialty do away rotations?

Yes, these are needed for additional SLOEs.

Q: If so, how many “aways” do you recommend and when should they be completed?

One away, but it needs to be early, preferably in Block 2 or 3 after doing home EM rotation in Block 1. If you do not have EM in the first block and the ability to do your away in the second or third block, contact Stacey Poznanski, D.O.

Q: Which month is recommended to take off to interview?


Similar Specialties to Consider

Residency Programs

Available Fellowships

  • Critical Care Medicine
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Emergency Ultrasound
  • Medical Toxicology
  • Pediatric Emergency Medicine
  • Sports Medicine
  • Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine

Looking into the Future/Changes in Health Care

Much debate occurs around what the future holds for health care and for emergency medicine in particular. Some believe the world of emergency medicine is eroding, with the growth of urgent care, freestanding emergency departments, retail clinics, and virtual care that can compete for patients. On the other hand, some believe that same change in the landscape is evidence of an expansion of our specialty. I tend to believe the latter: with an aging population, an increase in the insured, and a shortage of providers, there will always be a continued need for unscheduled acute care. No matter where those patient needs are, we want to be there. Emergency medicine actually exists to fill that gap. (Source: Martinez, 2015)

Additional Information

See the Career Essentials Pilot Page regarding specialty specific advice for more detailed information and resources.


Last edited on 10/04/2016.