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Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
MD Education

Emergency Medicine

"Emergency medicine involves the immediate care of urgent and life-threatening conditions found in the critically ill and injured. These physicians are really specialists in breadth — their broad-based training encompasses acute problems that span several clinical disciplines. No other specialty can match the astounding variety of patients found within the emergency room. You will see, hear, and smell things that most doctors will not. In just one shift, an EP may care for patients presenting with asthma attacks, atrial fibrillation, gunshot wounds, dislocated shoulders, and even cockroaches stuck in their ears." 

— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York. p.189.

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M1 and M2 Students

  • What advice would you offer first- and second-year students who are interested in pursuing your specialty?

    Attend as many Emergency Medicine Interest Group sessions as possible. Sign up to shadow in the ED — nights and weekends are particularly busy shifts. Consider research opportunities in the Department of Emergency Medicine. Contact Dr. Kontrick with specialty-related questions. Learn more about the specialty by reviewing topics in key EM journals (Academic Emergency Medicine, Annals of Emergency Medicine).

    Strongly consider joining national student groups.

    American Academy of Emergency Medicine/Resident and Student section is very inexpensive for medical students; the Scientific Assembly is free for students and is quite useful for M1s/M2s who want exposure to the field. They host a regional meeting for students annually in Chicago at the end of the summer.

    The Society for Academic Emergency Medicine also encourages student members. The annual meeting includes a Medical Student Symposium (topics generally focus on the application process for an EM residency) and a Medical Student Ambassador Program (allows students to attend the meeting for free in return for some donated volunteer effort during the conference).

  • How important is a research experience in your specialty? If important, does it need to be in the specialty itself?

    Important, but not essential. Since many students decide on EM later in their medical school experience, it is common for applicants to have research experience from other fields. If your are interested in doing your AOSC project in the department, please contact Dr. Kontrick as early as possible with project ideas so we can determine availability of appropriate mentors. Research experiences in EM definitely sets you apart, at least in that you'll have something to talk about during interviews. Consider the “Reflections” section of AEM for possible publication opportunities without research data. Consider the various medical student grant programs and research competitions.

M3 and M4 Students

Emergency Medicine Resources

Request an Emergency Medicine Adviser

Contact our Emergency Medicine Advising Coordinator:

Kontrick Photo

Amy Kontrick, MD
Emergency Medicine Career Advising Coordinator
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For More Information

Department of Emergency Medicine
Northwestern University
Feinberg School of Medicine
211 E. Ontario St.
Suite 200
Chicago, IL 60611