If I had to sum emergency medicine up in just one sentence, I would probably use the ever popular phrase: jack of all trades but master of none. This phrase doesn’t just end here though. It continues: still, it is better than master of just one. It’s a pretty accurate description! Patients of all types with all sorts of problems all across the spectrum arrive to receive care for their ailments.
As a result, not just any doctor can sit comfortably in an emergency room. A doctor specialized for heart problems wouldn’t know what to do when a child arrives with a dangerously high fever. A doctor specialized for kids wouldn’t know what to do when an adult road traffic accident victim arrives. An emergency medicine doctor knows how to handle all the possible random cases that can walk in through the door, or at least, know how to handle them until the more specialized doctors that can cater to the patient’s specific needs can get on board. It’s still a very new field though since it’s such a strange amalgamation of all the various existing fields of medicine and surgery.
Just a few weeks ago, I got to watch this documentary about how emergency medicine evolved as a field and how many hurdles and sacrifices it had to go through. Titles 24/7/365, the documentary went through the development of emergency medicine as an accepted field, from rejections to straight up sneers from fellow doctors. You can even watch the documentary for yourself here! While that documentary was mentioning things that had already come to pass, I found myself caught up in the making of history when I attended the launching event for the South Asian Journal of Emergency Medicine.
Exciting? Quite a bit, especially since the launch was happening during the time when the streets of Islamabad and Rawalpindi were being held hostage by protestors. Not to mention the fact that I also had a study published in this first edition of the journal! I had teamed up to do a survey based on BLS and subsequent learning that had occurred during a workshop conducted at an emergency medicine conference held earlier this year.
But I digress! I have recently been reading this rather interesting book that is also all about life as an emergency physician and I have been finding it quite fascinating.
Angels in the ER: Inspiring True Stories from an Emergency Room Doctor
Twenty-five years in the ER could become a résumé for despair, but for bestselling author Dr. Robert D. Lesslie, it’s a foundation for inspiring stories of everyday “angels”—friends, nurses, doctors, patients, and even strangers who offer love, help, and support in the midst of trouble.
“The ER is a difficult and challenging place to be. Yet the same pressures and stresses that make this place so challenging also provide an opportunity to experience some of life’s greatest wonders and mysteries.” Dr. Lesslie illuminates messages of hope while sharing fast-paced, captivating stories about discovering lessons from the ER frontline watching everyday miracles unfold holding on to faith during tragedy and triumph embracing the healing balm of hope.
For anyone who enjoys true stories of the wonders of the human spirit, this immensely popular book is a reminder that hope can turn emergencies into opportunities and trials into demonstrations of God’s grace.
Written in a breezy anecdotal form with short chapters, this is the kind of book you can pick up and read in short episodes. It’s great, very insightful and often leads us to question ourselves on our stance on things. After all, with all the emergencies that have been described in the book, it’s not that difficult to apply them on to yourself since emergencies can occur in anyone’s life at any point in time. No one is fully immune to emergencies. If it doesn’t happen to you, it might happen to someone close to you.
One of the chapters that really got me thinking was the chapter about how a road traffic accident was brought to the ER. A newlywed couple with the groom getting away with just a few scratches and the bride, dead on the spot. The anecdote continues with an experienced ER doctor forgetting one vital rule when it comes to breaking bad news: position yourself between the patient/family and the door so that you may escape should the patient/family become aggressive. And that’s precisely what had happened.
At the end of the day, emergency medicine isn’t just about handling emergencies and dispensing hospital care as fast as possible. Emergency medicine also involves taking care of other needs of the patient. Some might require psychiatric help, some come to the ER when they don’t know where else to go. With all of these patients requiring one on one attention, it’s easy to understand how the burnout rate for ER physicians is so high. These doctors need to hand out bad news, counsel patients on the regular and also switch to the next bed with a completely clean slate to work with the next new patient!
As 24/7/365 aptly describes it, if ER physicians were kids, they would probably be diagnosed with ADHD with the amount of quick compartmentalizing and task switching they do!
Overall, I’d give this book a 3.5/5 and would highly recommend it to anyone who is thinking about going to emergency medicine (spoiler alert: I’m not!). Not only will it give you the insights of the goods, but it will also tell you about the bad parts and hopefully help you get a glimpse of the life of an emergency room physician. I hope you had fun reading! Have a nice day.