International EM, Career Planning

ISAEM and the Push for Emergency Medicine Worldwide

Establishing the Standard

To many EMRA members, it may come as a surprise that the specialty of emergency medicine is a foreign term, and in many countries outside the U.S. the specialty simply does not exist. In these countries, the emergency department staff is reminiscent of the system in the United States back in the early 70s, before EM became an official specialty. Just as then, these departments are staffed by cardiologists, urologists, general practitioners, and surgeons who are reluctantly fulfilling their “time” in a department that they would never call their home. This lack of enthusiasm and interest in the ED causes unnecessary harm to those who stumble through the emergency department doors.

This is in stark contrast to the many individuals in countries where EM is a specialty, where oftentimes vibrant personalities and an enthusiastic approach to emergency care influence patient outcomes. For the most part, those who make emergency medicine their career love their job, and look forward to the crazy, random, and bizarre things can occur with each shift.

Physicians, legislatures, and especially students in those countries lacking dedicated emergency physicians are seeking full acceptance of emergency medicine as an official specialty in their home countries. They are reaching for a helping hand of opportunity from those physicians and individuals who may have tread these waters before, regardless of their nationality. The ability to call the emergency department your home is something that is sought after world wide, but is not yet attainable by all physicians and students in training.

International Student Association of Emergency Medicine (ISAEM) is the medical student voice with the goal of creating a universal acceptance for the specialty of emergency medicine throughout the world, as well as helping medical students get greater exposure to advanced emergency care training. ISAEM was recently recognized by EMRA as a supporting partner and has dedicated EMRA MSC involvement to help move its goals forward. ISAEM is at the forefront in its attempts progress emergency medicine to full integration as a specialty in countries where it does not yet exist.

ISAEM was established in Denmark in October 2013 by a pair of students with a fervent desire to become EM physicians and to connect EM student interest groups throughout the world. The membership of ISAEM has now grown to include EM student interest groups that include Denmark, the Netherlands, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, as well as the United States. Its membership is projected to exceed 20,000 international students by the end of 2015.

ISAEM is working fervently toward establishing hundreds of hospitals that are willing to allow international students to experience an EM exchange program. This initiative attempts to create a learning environment towards establishing a universal understanding and approach to emergency care, which is crucial for the young and budding international student interested in emergency medicine.

For those that already have a strong curriculum of emergency medicine, ISAEM provides an opportunity for the learner to step into a world of rudimentary EDs that utilize creative approaches when faced with extremely limited resources and oftentimes even the absence of a consistent staff of physicians.

ISAEM is now in the process of expanding its network of hospital affiliates throughout the world and extending an invitation to all hospitals and institutions for involvement. Such involvement could exist from simply an advocate of international EM exchanges to acceptance of international medical students in your ED. Involvement can occur by simply becoming an advocate for international EM exchanges, or by accepting international medical students as rotators in the ED. Ambassadors for each country are continually being established to act as liaisons to the executive board, and this provides an opportunity for additional involvement.

If you would like to assist in this exciting new organization, or would like more information on what we do, please do not hesitate to contacts us at, Facebook, Twitter or e-mail

ISAEM truly believes the axiom “alone we can go fast, but together we will go far.” We look forward to assisting the generation of international emergency medicine physicians throughout the world, and hope that you can in some way be part of our team.