Concept of Emergency Medicine at Undergraduate Level

Abdus Salam Khan, MD FACP
February, 2016

With the changing world it is important for us to adopt the right methods and right ingredients for your future generations. What seems to be out of bound should be incorporated in our studies at appropriate levels in order for us to compete with the advancing world.

Emergency Medicine is one of those fields that have seen a recent rise in demand. In actuality the concept of emergency medicine is not that new. The doctors creating this field did so in the midst of 20th century. Because of continued struggle as well as dedication of those people lead to establishment of the residency training in emergency medicine.

We in Pakistan are going through this phenomenon where we are struggling to create the space for this important faculty. Since 2010 when the CPSP (College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan) chose to take it as field for the training, we have tirelessly worked to expand. We have more than 30 trainees in Pakistan and CPSP is trying its best to let some of them be trained outside Pakistan for two years so they can serve the country better.

Our struggle is many folds and besides increasing the number of residency training institutions, we also have to deal with developing the mindset in our young doctors to come towards this field. During the initial days of our residency interviews, we struggled so much to convince people to come to this field. Now the awareness that the new doctors have is not based upon the science of the emergency medicine, but the demand and money aspect of it. They know that there is immediate demand for the emergency trained physicians and they want to be that person while there is still the demand.  How can we change it to a scenario in which young doctors come to this field with their genuine interest and liking regardless of the job market.

The answer lies in introducing the emergency medicine to the undergraduate students into their curriculum. Interestingly the curriculum does have emergency aspects of all the diseases, but it is dealt with as part of a broader education of the subject, not as a subject in itself. So one does not get an idea who will be the person dealing with all sorts of emergencies.

So when students will be taught about emergencies in a collective sense, it will not just improve the way they will think about dealing with emergencies but also will entice few of them to learn how this all is done. This will create a steady stream of people who would opt emergency medicine by their choice and will opt it as a lifelong career.

Working at different areas and with different levels of healthcare industry, we are slowly pushing the medical colleges to adopt emergency medicine as a subject into their undergraduate curriculum. It is an important and pivotal step in giving emergency medicine its due.

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