Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Department of Emergency Medicine

Clerkship Overview

In addition to their formal engagement with medical students in various courses offered at Feinberg, emergency medicine (EM) faculty serve as career advisers for students interested in emergency medicine, mentor students doing research projects, and allow interested students opportunities to shadow them during clinical shifts in the emergency department (ED).

Fourth-Year Clerkship

All fourth-year medical students must complete a required four-week rotation in the emergency department at Northwestern Memorial Hospital (NMH).  The high volume clinical environments of the ED exposes students to the diverse backgrounds and talents of the.  An intensive full-day orientation session held at NMH prepares students to function at the level of a sub-intern their very first day in the ED.  The emergency medicine clerkship assures that our students have ample opportunity to provide first-line care for acutely ill and injured patients of all ages from the patient’s initial presentation through the diagnosis and development of the treatment plan. Emergency Department attending physicians and senior residents directly supervise students and provide on-shift teaching, support, and immediate feedback.  This rotation serves to reinforce the skills and knowledge they have acquired during the previous three years. 

The recent addition of a high-fidelity simulator laboratory with a state-of-the-art mannequin to the emergency medicine clerkship curriculum complements the clinical experience.  During mandatory simulator sessions every student learns to manage critically ill patients and practice life-saving procedures in the safe environment of the laboratory.  The skills developed in the simulator lab can then be applied with confidence in the real life clinical setting.

Educational Policy and Procedures

During the four-week clerkship, students attend weekly conferences at NMH.  These faculty-led case-based sessions thoroughly explore key issues in emergency medicine by integrating real patient cases with basic science knowledge and recently published clinical data.  In addition to lecturing and facilitating small group sessions, direct supervision of all student work in the ED by emergency medicine faculty provides a unique clinical experience for Feinberg’s medical students.  Students are also required to keep a patient log of their clinical encounters, have various ED procedures observed and documented, spend time learning about emergency department triage with staff nurses, and deliver an evidence-based presentation to their peers about an important clinical lesson learned from patient followup during the month.  At the end of the rotation, a comprehensive written examination evaluates whether knowledge goals have been met.


In addition to educational support, our diverse faculty also provide third- and fourth-year students with career counseling and mentoring.  Emergency medicine faculty members sponsor an evening workshop during the third year to discuss career paths in the specialty.  During the students' fourth year, emergency medicine faculty from NMH conduct an informational session for students interested in emergency medicine to guide them through the residency application process.  Five to seven percent of Feinberg students in each graduating Feinberg class choose to pursue a career in emergency medicine. We believe this is due in large part to the EM faculty members who routinely serve as trusted mentors throughout the residency selection process.