Emergency medicine

Doctors in emergency medicine (EM) carry out the immediate assessment and treatment of patients with serious and life-threatening illnesses and injuries.

This page provides useful information on the nature of the work, the common procedures/interventions, sub-specialties and other roles that may interest you.

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Associate Specialist in Emergency Medicine, Dr Meng Aw Yong talks about his working life as part of the team at Hillingdon Hospital Accident and Emergency Department. He gives his personal insight into a career in Emergency Medicine and is clearly passionate about the work. (This video lasts 3 mins)

Nature of the work

They see patients of all age groups with a full spectrum of undifferentiated physical and behavioural disorders.

They treat conditions such as:

  • loss of consciousness, eg from an injury to the head, drug poisoning, an epileptic fit
  • severe bleeding
  • damage to the brain or other major organs, due to trauma
  • cardiac arrest (when the pumping action of the heart stops)
  • breathing difficulties
  • broken bones
  • mental health problems, eg self-harm patients

“There is constant variety and challenge: exposure to a great deal of “real life” ". Jonathan Benger is a professor of Emergency Medicine in Bristol.

Read Jonathan’s story

Common procedures/interventions

These include:

  • defibrillation (using a defibrillator to apply an electric shock to the heart to get the heart working normally again)
  • endotracheal intubation (insertion of a tube through the nose or mouth into the windpipe, for example, to get oxygen to the patient’s lungs)
  • tracheostomy (an opening is made in the windpipe from the front of the neck, for example, to get oxygen to the patient’s lungs)

The aim is to maximise patients’ chances of survival and a good recovery.


Many emergency doctors develop sub-specialty interests in:

  • paediatric emergency medicine
  • pre-hospital emergency medicine

Some doctors choose dual accreditation with intensive care medicine which leads to a CCT in both specialties.

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Other roles that may interest you

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