Your first and second year as a medical student is your time to get accustomed to the culture of medicine and start to learn the basic science behind the clinical skills to come. But as you’re nose first in your books and memorizing the 200 new anatomical relationships, remember that this will also be the point in your medical career where you have the most free time to explore, get involved, and begin to hone your clinical skills. Read on for some advice on great things to do early on in your medical school career to sharpen your EM skills!
Join EMRA (Emergency Medicine Resident’s Association) and your school’s EMIG (Emergency Medicine Interest Group).
Being a member of EMRA entitles you to a plethora of resources and information helpful for any stage from student to resident. Along with the many resources that become available to you with your membership, you will also receive the EMRA publication entitled, “ The Medical Student Survival Guide: A comprehensive Guide to The Specialty,” which will allow you to explore every aspect of emergency medicine from preparing for a shift in the ED to current research in the field to how to maintain great work-life balance as a student and future resident. Finally, as a member of EMRA you will have the opportunity to demonstrate leadership skills later on in your medical school career by participating in EMRA government!
Join your EMIG (Emergency Medicine Interest Group)
Joining the EMIG at your school will open the door for great opportunities for lectures on EM topics, to skills workshops (see below), to becoming part of a student community with similar career aspirations! It is a wonderful opportunity to show dedication through leadership should you choose to take a position in your school’s EMIG in the future. Generally, EMIGs are open to ideas of things you might want to see (i.e. a certain skills workshop, a lecture topic that you are particularly interested in, etc.). If your school doesn’t have an EMIG, then start one (email your EMRA MSC to find out how).
Find a mentor
Most institutions will host skills nights, whether is be your EMIG branch or another department like Anesthesia. Attend as many of these as possible! Such skills workshops can include suture workshops, ultrasound workshops, intubation workshops, crichothyroidotomy workshops, central line workshops, splinting and casting workshops and many more! The more workshops you attend, the more confident you will be in your clinical skills when you are given the opportunity to perform procedures. You’ll leave the workshops with a new bounce in your step and the confidence to perform a new skill! You can also check out our skills videos under “student resources.” Another great resource for procedure videos is the New England Journal of Medicine Website.
The absolute best advice for a 1st or 2nd year student is to find a good mentor early on. These mentors can prove to be one of the most influential parts of your medical school career! Don’t pick a mentor for their name in the field, or their CV, or for the number of publications you could become a part of. If possible, pick a mentor who has a great reputation amongst staff and students, who loves to teach, who is truly committed to taking the time to mentor you, and who is enthusiastic about taking you under their wing. This will allow you to get early clinical exposure (and if your are more of a hands on learner and less of a text book type of learner, this will be priceless for the advancement in your clinical skills and comfort with your patients before you ever set foot in to your 3rd and fourth year rotations). You will start to build and understand differential diagnoses and learn a great ED patient presentation early on and get comfortable with how an emergency department runs.
In addition you will build a real relationship with someone who will be invested in your success and can vouch for you in the future (like going on your 4th year rotations or when applying to residency) because they have seen your development more than anyone!
Get Involved in Research
If you are interested in doing research (or your school requires it) now is not too early to get involved in a project. It can be a project in EM or any other topic. People like to see that you are interested and passionate about your research much more than having random involvement in a mass EM study that is of no particular interest to you. Start looking at fields of research that spark an interest and contact faculty at your institution to inquire how you can be a part of, or create your own project. You’d be surprised how open faculty is to interested students!
Get great resources
Visit the EMRA bookstore for great reference cards, guides and podcasts!
Visit the ACEP Bookstore for discounted texts and to get an idea of some of the great textbooks in the world of EM (as an EMRA student member you will also be an ACEP member!)
Original Contribution: 6/11
Java Tunson, MSIV
University of Colorado School of Medicine
EMRA Medical Student Council