Similar to JAMA, which publishes an annual publication focusing on Medical Education, the Academic Emergency Medicine (AEM) journal just published a AEM-CORD/CDEM supplement focusing on EM education. I was fortunate to be involved with one of the papers published in this supplement.

This paper, written on behalf of the Clerkship Directors in EM (CDEM) and the Association of Academic Chairs of EM (AACEM), reviews the past, present, and future of EM in the U.S. medical school curriculum.

EM faculty members are playing an increasingly important role in both the preclinical and clinical curriculum. Our specialty teaches skills and knowledge, crucial for all medical students regardless of their eventual career choice. EM educators are a natural fit to teaching topics, such as the following:

  • Basic life support (BLS)
  • Advanced cardiac life support (ACLS)
  • Wound care
  • Splinting
  • Basic procedural skills
  • Simulation-based education
  • Bedside ultrasonography
  • Management of common emergencies

Furthermore, as medical schools are looking towards restructuring their overall curriculum to incorporate more clinical exposure from day 1, the diverse, high-volume environment of the Emergency Department (ED) makes it a perfect fit for students. Recall back to when you were a first-year medical student. How amazing would it have been to observe ED patients to reinforce your learning about pharmacology, anatomy, pathology, and heart sounds?

From an institutional standpoint, the EM clerkship fulfills many of the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) educational requirements. The LCME is the regulatory body that accredits U.S. and Canadian medical schools. The LCME recognizes that the ED provides students with an unparalleled learning opportunity. Consequently, more and more schools are making EM clerkships mandatory. In 2004, about 39% of U.S. medical schools had mandatory EM clerkships for third-year medical students. There’s an ongoing CDEM study to determine the more updated numbers (I’m guessing it’ll be closer to 50%).

Medical schools are increasingly depending on the EM specialty to help with teaching students at all levels of learning. For those of us invested in medical education, this is great news.

Wald D, Lin M, Manthey D, Rogers R, Zun L, Christopher T. (2010). Emergency Medicine in the Medical School Curriculum. Academic Emergency Medicine, 17 DOI: 10.1111/j.1553-2712.2010.00896.x

Michelle Lin, MD
ALiEM Founder and CEO
Professor and Digital Innovation Lab Director
Department of Emergency Medicine
University of California, San Francisco
Michelle Lin, MD


Professor of Emerg Med at UCSF-Zuckerberg SF General. ALiEM Founder @aliemteam #PostitPearls at Bio:
Michelle Lin, MD