So you have decided on a career in emergency medicine… what do you do next? Knowing what to do next depends upon where you are in your medical school career. For MS1’s and MS2’s, getting and advisor and getting involved with your emergency medicine interest group are the perfect places to start. Volunteering and shadowing in ED’s will help make you more familiar with the interworkings of an ED. MS1 and MS2 year are also great times to start making contacts with potential research projects that later may give you an edge with interviewing for residencies. Most research topics that commonly involve emergency medicine are geared towards quality improvement, patient outcomes research, and public health/policy as the emergency department generates large amounts of data in these areas by being the “gateway” where the public receives its initial medical evaluation. Other research topics commonly covered in emergency medicine include those involving its many fellowship programs (Toxicology, EMS, Wilderness Medicine, International Medicine, Sports Medicine, Ultrasound, etc). The end of MS2 year should be focused
on studying for STEP 1. Doing well on your first board exam not only helps your resume when applying for EM residencies, but it also is your first of many board exams you will be taking to become a licensed physician.
MS3 and MS4 years are the most looked at years by residency programs when selecting applicants. An article titled, “Selection criteria for emergency medicine residency applicants.” (Acad Emerg Med. 2000 Jan;7(1):54-60.) discussed survey results from EM residency program directors on selection criteria for applicants. The most important factors program directors placed on applicants were their EM rotation grades, interview, clinical grades, and recommendations. Moderate emphasis was placed on USMLE scores and less emphasis on extracurricular activities and research. As a MS3 or early MS4, making a to do list to plan out your 4th year is the first and most important step to successfully matching an EM residency. Here is a good timeline to use when planning out your 4th year.