Sunday, March 29, 2020

Own Your Worth

Image Credit: Pexels
Author: Adriana Coleska, MD
AAEM/RSA Board of Directors
Originally published: Common Sense
March/April 2020

As emergency medicine (EM) physicians, we use humor as a way to cope with a difficult diagnosis, patient loss, or an uncomfortable consultant interaction. While those who have worked with me in the emergency department know that I thrive on a relaxed and joking environment to make the shifts go by, I want to shed light on a worrisome trend that I have noticed. I want to talk about the overuse of self-deprecating humor by physicians in our specialty. I have only been in the field of emergency medicine for 2.5 years, and I cannot count how many times I’ve heard my co-residents, friends in EM, even attendings end a story or consultation with the phrase “but what do I know, I am just an emergency room doctor.” Some physicians have even gone so far as coining the term “JAFERD” (just another f****** emergency room doctor).

Though jokes, even self-deprecating ones, can quickly diffuse a tense situation, my sense is that sometimes the “just an ER doc” phrase comes from a place of insecurity. I’ve witnessed residents and attendings give thorough explanations regarding their thought process and reason for a consult, only to end with the wobbly “but I’m not sure, I am only an ER doc.” Using this statement in a professional setting diminishes the validity of your question and possibly the consultant’s opinion of your clinical knowledge and reliability. Why use language that can negatively impact your intelligence? Have you ever heard a surgeon say “I am JUST a surgeon?” We all went to medical school and matched in a competitive field, trust in your knowledge and hard work, be confident in your exam and thought process. We are not perfect. We are allowed to get things wrong; it’s hard to keep up with new literature and new protocols on all of medicine. But when speaking to a consultant who is questioning your management, don’t shy away and hide behind the phrase JAFERD. Explain to them where you are coming from and eagerly ask to be educated on the new literature that consultant is guiding their treatment off of. And while some may use JAFERD as an inside joke, when heard by outsiders the “just” portion of the phrase can be misconstrued as lacking confidence or as excusatory.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Letter to Our Emergency Medicine Residents and Medical Students

Image Credit: CDC
Dear Emergency Medicine Residents and Students,

We have reached a critical time in modern medicine with the pandemic of Coronavirus (COVID-19). Today, I wanted to take a minute to remind you just how important you are in this fight against COVID-19.

Over the coming days and weeks, your efforts will be critical in helping to manage large numbers of critically ill patients and to help stifle the spread of this deadly virus. As emergency medicine residents and medical students you are the front-line, at all times. You are the engine of the emergency department - arguably the most essential department for containing and treating this virus. Every single patient you see, every treatment you administer, every intubation you perform, is one further step in gaining control against COVID-19.

Friday, March 6, 2020

What is Happening to Our Specialty? An Open and Honest Look at the Chaos in Our Trade.

Image credit: Pexels
Author: AAEM/RSA News
Originally published: Common Sense January/February 2020

As physicians, we all subscribe to the four tenets of medical ethics: autonomy, justice, beneficence, and non-maleficence. These ideals are integral in providing ethical care to all our patients, from the weakest and most vulnerable, to the most astute and medically literate. Our patients deserve these moral characteristics in their physician in order to get the best care possible. But what do physicians deserve?

If we were to apply these factors to ourselves as EM physicians, we’d see a grim trend of unethical practices occurring in our own specialty. Corporate greed, poor educational transparency, loss of autonomy – and the illegitimization of the emergency physician.