Ah, EMTALA! The revered Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act! It’s one of those things which is like a nursery rhyme to emergency medicine folks like me. We’ve heard about it from the infancy of our training.  "And then the bad doctor sent the poor lady to another hospital because she couldn’t pay!  And the King came and crucified him for doing it!"  The end. EMTALA, for the uninitiated, is ...

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You start out by working in a busy emergency department. You see patients with all sorts of complaints: abdominal pain, headaches, and chest pain. Vomiting, diarrhea, and dysuria. Ankle sprains, bug bites, and allergic reactions. Domestic violence, rape, and child abuse. You don’t ever let the stress of the job take away your humanity. You treat your patients with empathy and respect. You listen to their stories, treat their symptoms, contact the police, ...

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Walking into Riley Pediatrics Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana, and having just completed two prior rotations in emergency medicine at two different level 1 trauma centers, I thought I would be able to easily fit in with pediatric population here. I thought I would be able to slide fluidly from patient to patient, oral reports to consults, while staying connected with the rest of the team. I thought I would be ...

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Exercise. Growing up I competed in multiple sports. The physical enhancement of the human body through movement sparked my interest in human physiology and kinesiology. Consequently, my interest in physiology ultimately led me to medical school. It only felt natural, when medicine became what felt like the bane of my existence, that I’d revert back to this pursuit’s humble beginning. Given the fact that time was a scarce resource during internship, ...

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Medical training in the United States is a long and tedious process. It begins in college, when one must complete the mandatory prerequisite curriculum and take a medical entrance exam; your score on which is directly compared to other applicants, immediately labeling you as a competitive candidate or not. The process of applying requires the completion of multiple comprehensive applications, the compilation of countless hours of research, clinical experience, letters ...

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If the emergency room is the most expensive place to receive health care, then why are more patients visiting the ER than ever before? There are no local doctors’ offices that can charge $1,000 to put a Band-Aid on your finger or $8,000 to tell you that your abdominal pain is due to drinking too much coffee.  But, I don't think you would mind paying this premium if you were having ...

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Sometimes, the loudest sounds I hear in the emergency department are laughter. It may seem irresponsible. It may seem discordant. It may seem callous. To me, it is the sound of survival. It is the sound of resiliency. It is the sound of making it through the day. My father was at work when he suddenly became cold, clammy, and collapsed to the ground unresponsive. His staff did the right thing ...

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Dear emergency medicine physicians: You aren’t alone. This is very important for you to realize. I mean, I know you aren’t ‘alone.’ You have spouses and children, parents, siblings, neighbors, dogs and cats. That’s all good. You need them.  Also, every shift is chock-full of people and their maladies, which you heroically manage day in, day out. Patients are everywhere. Some are sick, and some are injured, and many are ...

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I was afraid.  Really, I was more anxious.  This wasn’t any of the typical new mother fears I had been warned about. If fact, I didn’t even see this one coming.  I knew that it would be tough going back to work 3 months after my first daughter was born.  I knew I would miss her terribly.  I knew I had to figure out a pumping schedule with my colleagues ...

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Most people are surprised to hear that the way doctors are recertified every ten years is through a multiple choice test. “Really?” they’ll say. “You take a multiple choice test? As a doctor?” Unfortunately, after all these years that's the most efficient way we can think of to evaluate professionals. But the method is so flawed. And your ability to answer questions on the multiple choice test isn't necessarily linked with ...

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