Emergency Medicine Specialist

Profession Overview

Emergency medicine specialists are medical doctors that are mostly found working in hospital emergency rooms but can work in some urgent cares.  Emergency medicine specialists are often referred to as ER doctors or ED doctors.  It is their responsibility to quickly examine and determine the severity of the conditions of the people coming into the emergency room, this is called triage.  After triage, the ER doctors work to stabilize the patients as quickly as possible and then refer them to the specialists they need.  These physicians need to be able to think quickly, communicate with different professions, and be very familiar with a multitude of specialties including neurology, cardiology, pulmonology, orthopedics, dermatology, and psychology.

Requirements to Become an Emergency Medicine Specialist

To become an ER doctor all people must graduate high school or receive a GED and graduate college with an undergraduate degree.  The most common degree to receive is a Bachelor’s Degree of Science in Biology, but there are other options such as Kinesiology.  It is not a requirement to have a certain major in college as long as you meet all the pre-requisites required by the medical schools you are applying to.

Physicians must graduate from a 4-year accredited medical school and will take courses in anatomy, physiology, biology, and chemistry of the human body that provides insight into all specialties in the field of medicine.  Medical schools provide students with experiences working in different specialties including cardiology, orthopedics, surgery, obstetrics, and gynecology.  After graduation from medical school, a 3-4 residency is required where new doctors or residents practice in their setting under the supervision of an attending physician.

In order to practice medicine, physicians must pass an exam to become Board Certified usually from the American Board of Emergency Medicine (ABEM).

There is an option to do a 1-year fellowship in which doctors become more trained in one specialty while working.

Medical Schools in Louisiana

Louisiana State University School of Medicine New Orleans
1901 Perdido Street
New Orleans LA, 70112
(504) 568-4007

Tulane University School of Medicine
1430 Tulane Avenue
New Orleans LA, 70112
(504) 988-5263

Louisiana State University School of Medicine Shreveport
1501 Kings Highway
Shreveport LA, 71130
(318) 675-5000

Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine – Louisiana Campus
4408 Bon Aire Drive
Monroe LA, 71203
(318) 342-7131


Career Outlook

It is estimated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that the field will grow by 4% by 2029


A majority of emergency medicine specialists work in hospital emergency rooms where a large percentage of emergent conditions will present.  There are some more specialized urgent cares that have larger capabilities to take care of some more serious conditions.


Anesthesiology Critical Care

Emergency Medical Services

Hospice and Palliative Care

Internal Medicine with Critical Care

Medical Toxicology

Neurocritical Care

Pain Medicine

Pediatric Emergency Medicine

Sports Medicine

Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine

Typical Work Week

ER doctors often work some irregular hours but will average about 40 hours per week usually broken into 3 to 4 shifts per week. They also have hours where they are not actively working but are on call as a reserve in case they are needed with an influx of patients.  Shifts can range from 6 to 12 hours long and it is not uncommon for doctors to work around 10 12-hour shifts a month.  Emergency specialists will have to work some night shifts, some weekends, and some holidays.  This field has one of the more variable weekly schedules.  Each day is highly variable as ED doctors will see patients ranging from minor colds all the way to serious trauma patients and complex medical disorders.  Most days are high intensity as there are large patient caseloads and they are very diverse.


The average salary in Louisiana is $286,655 with a range of $244,310 to $335,735

Responsibilities and Daily Duties

Emergency medical specialists are the first doctors to see any patient that enters the emergency room.  It is their responsibility to quickly determine what is needed to be done, often starting with if the patient is at risk of immediately becoming worse or dying and then what needs to be done to prevent that.  This can include immediate referral to other specialists that are needed, providing immediate medical treatment to stabilize a critically ill or injured patient, or administering basic first aid.  ER doctors must be able to treat all patients regardless of age, gender, or health condition.  The most common presentations to the emergency room are conditions that include significant traumas from events like car crashes, breathing problems like asthma attacks, head and spine injuries, bleeding, chest pain, and strokes.  The goal of all emergency medical specialists is to quickly administer medical procedures to save the patient’s life until a specialist is able to further examine and treat the patient.

Emergency medical specialists often run a lot of tests to get as much information as possible very quickly.  Some of these tests include:

Blood Analysis: For the number of red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, hemoglobin, and hematocrit, as well as levels of calcium, glucose, sodium, potassium, bicarbonate, blood urea nitrogen, albumin, protein, liver enzymes, lipids, hormones, and markers that indicate medical emergencies like a heart attack.

Urine Analysis: For the color and clarity of the urine, and the presence of proteins, ketones, glucose, bilirubin, cells, bacteria, and more that can indicate the function of different organs and identify various medical conditions.


X-Ray: For a quick image of predominantly bony structures and joint spaces

CT Scan: To provide a more detailed image looking for tumors, bleeding, or other damage

MRI: For less emergent conditions that require a lot of details for diagnosis that is especially used for soft tissues like cartilage, tendons, and abdominal organs

Ultrasound: A faster image using soundwaves to examine an unborn baby, internal organs, and blood flow

From the Professional


Professional Organizations

American Board of Emergency Medicine
3000 Coolidge Road
East Lansing, MI 48823
(517) 332-4800