Editor's Forum

The Power of Emergency Medicine: Sculpting the Leaders Within Us

Take a moment and picture the greatest leader who comes to mind. Consider their essence, their traits, and the actions they take that make them a great leader to you.

Who came to mind? Was it a great world leader? A teacher? A family member? A resident, fellow, or attending?

Was it yourself?

Amid a particularly critical case during my resuscitation block, one of my favorite attendings told me: “Your place as the leader of this resuscitation is at the foot of this bed. Everything else can be done from here.”

I’ve thought of this statement numerous times since. A simple phrase, but it changed how I thought about my role.

Morgan Sweere.jpeg
Morgan Sweere, MD, MPH
EMRA Secretary/Editor-in-Chief

Nothing tests a leader more than a crisis situation. They can take a step back and look at the bigger picture. The best leaders can guide, influence, and direct effectively under conditions of rapid change. This — rapid change — is the definition of our specialty. Do we think of ourselves as leaders of the emergency department? Leaders in health care? Leaders of resuscitation?

There is opportunity for leadership within every single patient encounter.

This is something we have to be mindful of as an intangible but crucial part of emergency medicine training. It is not just attending physicians who lead. Residents lead every day. We influence others — consultants, nurses, techs, our patients — especially on their perspectives of emergency physicians. Now is the time to develop these leadership skills.

There is no one way to lead. I bet every leader who came to mind at the beginning of this article had unique characteristics and different leadership styles. Each emergency physician has a different technique to successfully lead the department.

Leadership — in addition to being 1 of the 3 main pillars at the heart of EMRA’s mission (the other 2 being education and advocacy) — is part of the hidden curriculum of emergency medicine. How do we unhide it? This is a core part of our training.

At EM Resident, we are further investing in EMRA’s core pillar of leadership — to help you become the best leader you can be — by relaunching EMPower, a hugely popular and in-demand magazine series last published in 2018. EMPower gives us a closer look and backstage access to some of the greatest leaders in emergency medicine. Keep an eye out for EMPower profiles in future EM Resident editions as well as on emresident.org. And if you know EM leaders or role models who are worthy of EMPower spotlights, email me at emresidenteditor@emra.org and send them my way!

The future power of emergency medicine, though? That is us. If there is one thing I can say that has and always will be true of emergency medicine residents, it is that we are up for a challenge. I look forward to seeing some of you featured in our EMPower section one day, as we all continue to advocate for our patients and work toward making this specialty the best it can be.

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