Emergency Medicine Rotation Student Manual The University of Maryland School of Medicine

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Emergency Medicine Rotation
Student Manual

The University of Maryland School of Medicine

George C. Willis M.D., FAAEM

Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine
Director of Undergraduate Medical Education
Emergency Medicine Elective Director
Department of Emergency Medicine
The University of Maryland School of Medicine

Updated July 21, 2012

Rotation in Emergency Medicine

Guidelines for Medical Students

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

Pages 3-6

2. Rotation Objectives, Evaluation, and Grading

Pages 7-13

3. Why this Rotation is Important: The Macy Report

Page 14

and the LCME

4. The Emergency Medicine Rotation

Pages 15-26

5. Resources for Students Interested in Emergency Medicine

Page 27-28

Procedure Log Form

Page 29

1. Introduction

Welcome to the emergency medicine rotation at The University of Maryland!

The emergency medicine rotation is an exciting 4-week experience aimed at teaching medical students the necessary skills to take care of patients with a wide variety of undifferentiated urgent and emergent conditions. Students will learn how to approach patients with common and potentially life-threatening complaints such as chest pain, headache, abdominal pain, and many others. Students will gain crucial skills in patient assessment and stabilization. Emphasis is placed on teaching students how to develop a working differential diagnosis and how to appropriately narrow it.

According to the National Hospital Ambulatory Care Survey an estimated 110 million visits were made to hospital emergency departments in 2002. This is an increase of 23% since 1992 (89 million ED visits). During this same period of time, the number of operating emergency departments across the country decreased by about 15%.

Regardless of your intended career path, the pathology of illness seen during your emergency medicine rotation will provide you with a unique educational opportunity.

National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey:

2002 Emergency Department Summary

Most commonly reported chief complaints: (% distribution of visits)

  • Abdominal pain 6.5%

  • Chest pain 5.1%

  • Fever 4.8%

  • Cough 2.7%

  • Shortness of breath 2.7%

  • Headache 2.6%

  • Back pain 2.5%

Principles of Emergency Medical Care

All patients that you encounter in the ED should be evaluated in a systematic fashion. The principles of care that are listed below will help provide you with a template and framework to approach each patient.

1) First and foremost is to determine the presence of a life threatening condition. Cardinal complaints such as chest pain, shortness of breath, abdominal pain, headache, and altered mental status, etc. need to be systematically evaluated. Emergency Medicine is primarily a complaint oriented rather than a disease specific specialty. The presence of even a potentially life threatening illness will often require early aggressive management to decrease associated morbidity and mortality. In all serious illness / injury the “ED safety net” should be employed. This consists of vascular access, cardiac monitoring, and supplemental oxygen. With clinical experience, it is often easier to identify a sick patient. The ability to rapidly identify an ill appearing patient is paramount to the practice of emergency medicine. At times identifying a sick patient may be straight forward. The patient may just look sick when you enter the treatment room. He may be sweaty and holding his chest, or he may lying still on a stretcher with an altered mental status. As a medical student, the identification of a sick or even a potentially sick patient (abnormal vital signs, SOB, cardiac CP, peritoneal findings, altered mental status, etc.) should prompt you to immediately obtain the assistance of the senior EM resident or the attending physician.

2) Often during your primary patient assessment, you have to determine what interventions are necessary to stabilize the patient. Initial care will often be directed at airway management, hemodynamic stabilization, and arrhythmia management, etc. These interventions may either correct or treat an emergent condition, or prevent one from occurring. This principle is ever so important when you are managing critically ill patients.

3) What is “ROWCS”? Rule Out Worst Case Scenario-After the immediate life threatening process is stabilized, it is important to identify other potential serious disorders (high potential morbidity) that are consistent with the patient’s presentation. Remember it is not uncommon for a patient to present with more than one pathologic process. The adage “worst first” clearly applies to the specialty of emergency medicine. Only after the life or limb threatening etiologies are ruled out, are the more benign processes considered.

4) Early on in the course of treatment, a decision has to be made as to what diagnostic tests if any are indicated. Diagnostic tests often include various radiographic and/or laboratory tests. The decision to order diagnostic tests should be made in conjunction with your senior EM resident or attending physician (see section on diagnostic testing).

5) Is a specific diagnosis possible or even necessary? Accepting the humbling nature and at times the uncertainty of our specialty is often necessary. Patient care will most often be instituted prior to a formal diagnosis. It is not uncommon to either discharge or admit a patient without a specific diagnosis. Abdominal pain is a common chief complaint in which we will discharge a patient without a specific diagnosis. We will often label the patient with “abdominal pain etiology unclear.” This commonly used label can be viewed as a diagnosis of exclusion. It is only after a thorough history and physical examination, appropriate laboratory and/or radiographic tests that this label is applied. As a general rule all patient’s with this diagnosis should meet the following criteria prior to being discharged; no peritoneal findings, tolerating oral fluids, not requiring parenteral analgesia, adequate follow up (often within 12 – 24 hours).

6) Does this patient require hospitalization? This is a critical decision point in the management of all emergency department patients. Although this seems simple, the disposition of some patient’s, i.e., does the patient require hospitalization or can he/she be discharged, may not be as simple as it seems. In order to make this decision, one must at times take into account other aspects of the patient’s social/living situation in addition to his or her medical illness. Does the patient have access to routine follow up health care, can he or she pay for their prescriptions, and are they reliable to follow up as directed? Are they homeless, are family members or visiting nurses available to assist the patient with his or her needs? It is also important to determine if the patient will be able to perform his/her activities of daily living at home prior to discharging them from the ED. In 2002, approximately 12% of all ED visits across the country resulted in hospital admission. Many urban ED’s have much higher patient acuity than the national average resulting in a greater percentage of patients requiring hospital admission. It is not uncommon for a busy, high acuity urban emergency department to admit 20% - 25% of the patients that they encounter.

7) If the patient will be discharged, have you addressed proper outpatient follow up? Many patient’s will require follow up with a primary care physician, some with a specialist. The care provided by the emergency department is often only one facet of the total care required by the patient. When discharging a patient from the ED, it is often helpful to document on the discharge instructions pertinent test results (positive or negative) or interventions that were performed during their evaluation. It is also helpful to advise the patient to bring his/her discharge instructions with them when they follow up with there primary care physician.

8) Does the chart reflect the full extent of the evaluation and treatment performed in the ED? “If it isn’t charted, it didn’t happen” Proper documentation will first and foremost benefit the care that the patient receives. Secondly, in the event of an unanticipated bad outcome, the chart may be reviewed in a peer review process or in the case of litigation, proper documentation will be extremely helpful.

9) Please keep in mind that your documentation does NOT go in the medical record.

10) Here are a few documentation helpful hints:

  • Time and date all notes in the medical record

  • Write your notes legibly

  • If you make a mistake, draw one line through it and sign your initials

  • Document complete history and physical examinations

  • Document vital signs, and address abnormalities

  • Document the results of all tests that you have ordered (labs, EKG, x-rays, etc)

  • When you speak to consultants, document name and times

  • Document the patient’s response to therapy

  • Document repeat examinations

  • Document your thought process (medical decision making)

  • Never write derogatory comments in the medical record

  • Never change or add comments to the medical record after the fact. It may be appropriate to add an addendum not if it is properly timed and dated

  • Document your procedures

  • If the patient leaves against medical advice (AMA), document that you have explained the specific risks of leaving AMA.

  • Document discharge instructions and plans for out patient follow up

Although your documentation will not go into the chart, please practice documenting on every patient you see. Its good practice for next year when you are a resident.

2. Rotation Objectives, Evaluation, and Grading

Objectives for the rotation are based on the six Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) “core competencies” that emergency medicine residency education is based on.

The overall goal of the emergency medicine rotation is to help students develop the necessary skills to diagnose and manage patients with undifferentiated urgent and emergent conditions.

At the end of the rotation, each student should be able to do the following:

1. Patient Care

  • Efficiently perform a medical interview

  • Perform a directed physical examination

  • Develop a differential diagnosis

  • Initiate resuscitation and stabilization measures

  • Correctly perform the following procedural techniques: intravenous line, ECG, foley catheter, splint sprain/fracture, suture laceration

  • Perform assessment of the undifferentiated patient

  • Develop skills in disposition and follow-up of patients

  • Develop an evaluation plan

  • Develop a therapeutic plan

2. Medical Knowledge

  • Identify the acutely ill patient

  • Interpret test and imaging data

  • Describe an initial approach to patients with the following ED presentation: chest pain, shortness of breath, abdominal pain, fever, trauma, shock, altered mental status, GI bleeding, headache, seizure, overdose (basic toxicology), burns, gynecologic emergencies, and orthopedic emergencies

3. Professionalism

  • Treat patients and families with respect and compassion

  • Demonstrate professional and ethical behavior

  • Develop sensitivity to cultural issues

  • Interact with consultants and other emergency department staff

4. Communication and Interpersonal Skills

  • Effectively communicate with all members of the healthcare team

  • Develop effective listening skills

  • Demonstrate an availability to patients, families, and colleagues

5. Practice Based learning and Improvement

  • Evaluate own performance

  • Actively use practice-based data to improve patient care

  • Use information technology to improve patient care

  • Incorporate feedback into improvement activities

  • Evaluate the medical literature

6. Systems-Based Practice

  • Mobilize outside resources for patient care

  • Assure follow-up plan for all patients seen in the emergency department

Your clinical grade will based on evaluations from faculty members and residents and consists of the following:

1. Interpersonal Skills and Professionalism

Acceptance of patient care responsibilities

• Behavior: accepts responsibility for emergency department management including history, physical examination, gathering of lab and x-ray data, collating all diagnostic information, following patient’s progress, answering patient questions, and arranging for appropriate disposition and follow-up

Professional demeanor

• Behavior: respectful, polite, professional, ethically-sound

Use of listening skills in dealing with patients and their families

• Behavior: asks open-ended questions, empathizes with patients, involves family in gathering data, and helping family assist patient in appropriate medical and therapeutic decisions

Attitudes toward patients, staff, and peers

• Behavior: respectful, polite, professional, works within a team framework

Recognize the need for self-improvement

• Behavior: continuous endeavor to improve knowledge base

2. Patient Care and Data Collection Abilities

Obtain an appropriate history

• Criteria: takes a thorough, complete, and careful history

Perform an accurate examination

• Criteria: performs a thorough, accurate physical examination, identifying pertinent positive findings, demonstrating competency in regional examination.

Skill in obtaining added history (from family, EMS records, chart review, information services)

• Criteria: attentive to patient’s hospital record, searched for past medical history and data to support the present complaint, obtaining additional information from family members and adds EMS information to each HPI

Quality of presentation.

• Criteria: reliable, concise, thorough reporting

3. Medical Knowledge

Investigational and analytic thought

• Criteria: able to competently discuss evaluation of plain x-rays, ECGs and laboratory information as it pertains to the patient’s case

Knowledge and application of basic sciences

• Criteria: able to competently discuss the pathophysiology as it pertains to the patient’s case

4. Data Synthesis (Problem-Solving Abilities)

Formulate a working impression

• Criteria: formulates a pertinent priority based differential diagnosis; always has ideas regarding the patient’s clinical condition

Follow patient progress

• Criteria: performs serial examinations; identifies any change in the patient’s condition and promptly alters management plan

Formulate a treatment plan

• Criteria: identify achievable and reasonable ways to manage a patient’s illness given the constraints of ED resources

Ability to determine a disposition

• Criteria: provides a thoughtful approach to patient care after ED discharge

5. Procedural Aptitude

Ability to state the appropriate therapeutic treatment or procedure

• Criteria: accurately outline any therapeutic test or procedure that should be performed.

State how it will be done and do it

• Criteria: excellence in performing such procedures as suturing, insertion of IVs, catheters, obtaining blood gases, etc

Your final grade is composed of several components: clinical performance and written examination results. In addition, you will be graded on motivation and attitude towards learning.

Guidelines for Grading and Evaluation:

The University of Maryland School of Medicine uses a standard grading system when assigning clinical rotation grades to medical students. The standard grading system provides the following levels of credit: Honors, A, B, C and two levels of non-credit: Incomplete and Fail. The following is a breakdown of the grading system:

a. Honors (H) – a performance that is clearly superior reflecting a comprehensive achievement of the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors that are outlined under the section of emergency medicine core clinical skills. An Honors grade is usually reserved for the top 10% of medical students. Rigid cut off values are not used. Year to year the percentage of student receiving an Honors grade may vary.
The grade of Honors should be reserved for the outstanding student. He or she should be resourceful, efficient, and insightful. In comparison to his or her peers, the student should have an in-depth understanding of medical knowledge and underlying scientific principles and be able to apply these principles to clinical medicine. The student should consistently perform detailed, but focused history and physical examinations, and be able to integrate their findings to generate a comprehensive problem list and differential diagnosis. He or she should be able to select diagnostic studies that are most appropriate for the specific patient presentation and apply these tests appropriately based on the differential diagnosis. The student should be able to present his or her cases in a well- organized fashion that is easy to follow and includes all pertinent data even on complicated cases. He or she should always demonstrate respect, courtesy, honesty, integrity, and other behaviors that are becoming of a medical professional, and should be a role model for other medical students. The student should perform above expectations and should strive for excellence even in difficult situations.

b. A – a performance that is well beyond the minimum course requirements. An A grade is usually reserved for the next 25% - 35% of medical students. Rigid cut off values are not used. Year to year the percentage of students receiving an A grade may vary.

The grade of A should be reserved for the solid medical student. He or she should also be resourceful and efficient. The student should have an above average fund of medical knowledge and understanding of underlying scientific principles. He or she should be able to apply many of these principles to clinical situations that they encounter in the emergency department. The student should be able to perform an appropriate but focused medical history and physical examination and be able to develop an appropriate problem list and differential diagnosis. Most if not all major problems are identified, although some minor details may be overlooked. The student should be able to present his or her cases in an organized fashion that is easy to follow and includes most of the pertinent data, even on complicated cases. The student should also exhibit respect, courtesy, honesty, integrity, and other professional behaviors that are becoming of a medical professional.

c. B – a performance that meets the basic course requirements. A B grade is usually reserved for the next 50% - 60% of medical students. This is the equivalent of a Pass grade. Rigid cut off values are not used. Year to year the percentage of students receiving a B grade may vary.

The grade of B should be reserved for the average student. He or she should have an average fund of medical knowledge and understanding of scientific principles.

He or she should be able to apply some of these principles to clinical situations. The student should be able to perform an adequate history and physical examination on uncomplicated cases and be able to develop an appropriate problem list and differential diagnosis. At times, the student may have some difficulty in identifying pertinent review of system questions, or may omit certain portions of the medical history and physical examination in more complicated cases. Case presentations are generally organized, although at times pertinent information is omitted and less relevant information is included. The student should also demonstrate respect, courtesy, honesty, integrity, and other behaviors that are becoming of a medical professional.

d. C – a performance that falls below acceptable minimum standards.

The grade of condition should be reserved for the student whose performance falls below acceptable minimum standards. In this situation, the student may have a poor fund of knowledge and understanding of scientific principles. He or she is generally unable to apply these facts or principles to clinical situations. The student is unable to perform an adequate basic history and physical examination, and is often unable to generate an adequate problem list and differential diagnosis even for straightforward, single system cases. History and physical examinations findings may be inaccurate, or grossly incomplete, omitting key clinical information and findings. Case presentations are disorganized and difficult to follow even for straightforward complaints. The student fails to demonstrate the expected behaviors of a medical professional. Unprofessional behavior may include; acting disrespectful to any patient, family member, or healthcare team member, being dishonest, arriving late for clinical shifts, unexcused absences, or being unreliable.

e. Fail (F) – a performance that is well below acceptable minimum standards.

Traditionally, the assignment of a Failing grade is reserved for the medical

student that demonstrates egregious unprofessional behavior.

Your Clinical Evaluation:

At the end of every shift you will be required to login to UMEM.ORG and select the resident(s)/attending(s) you worked with. Electronic evaluations are then sent out automatically. Failure to login and send evaluations may adversely affect your grade.

Medical Knowledge

Deficient knowledge; has difficulty Average to inadequate Adequate knowledge base for

Knowledge base excellent,


applying basic science principles to knowledge base. May have level of training. Uses basic

displays considerable insight in


related clinical problems, even difficulty applying basic science principles

relating principles to complex

after instruction on similar cases science principles to related appropriately to identify patient

patient problems.

clinical problems. problems.

C (below average)

B (Good, Average) A (Very Good)

Honors (Stellar, Superstar)



Misses essential information; is Frequently asks too much or Complete, focused and

Consistently precise and


dis-organized or inconsiderate of too little history. Identifies most accurate history.

skillful history. Identifies


patient’s needs problems but doesn’t fully

significant findings in a

characterize them.

perceptive and organized






Physical Examination

Consistently uses faulty technique, Occasionally misses findings Conducts systematic exam.

Conducts thorough appropriate


performs inappropriate and/or performs inappropriate Recognizes and follows up

examinations and prioritizes


exam,misses major findings. or faulty exam. most significant findings.

significant findings, uncovers

Above average skills.

subtle findings




Differential Diagnosis / Formulation of Treatment Plan

Frequently not able to organize, Poor integration of data. Usually reflects an accurate

Synthesizes data to


summarize, or explain clinical data. Differential may be incomplete and logical interpretation of the

comprehensive problem list.


or reflect illogical reasoning. data.

Can suggest therapeutic plan.




Presentation of Clinical Data

Not able to organize, summarize, May fail to identify significant Logical, accurate and timely

Concise, accurate and timely


or explain clinical data. findings. Occasional presentation of patient

presentation of even complex


disorganized presentation or problems both verbally and in

patient problems in both verbal

notes. chart.

and written form.




Patient Rapport / Professionalism

Dramatic absence of patient-doctor Inconsistently demonstrates Consistently demonstrates

Impeccable professional


communication skills. acceptable conduct. acceptable conduct. Aware of

conduct. Integrates


Disrespectful, rude, and insensitive Communications sometimes patient’s needs.

psychosocial issues into

in office or hospital. inappropriate, not sensitive to

patient care. Develops

patients needs beyond that of

effective relationships with

the illness.




Evaluation Metric used for clinical grade

Motivation / Attitude towards learning

Fails to follow through on

Occasionally fails to follow

Can be relied on to complete

Reliable. Eager. Completes


assignments. Poor attendance

through on assignments. Rare

assigned tasks. Attentive.

assigned tasks and seeks new


without explanation. Seems

unexplained absence. Lacks

Interested. Usually works

responsibilities. Self directed




learner. Works fully

independently. A “go-getter”






Procedural Skills

Poor understanding of the

Performed task at minimal

Completes procedure.

Needs no explanation to start


procedure. Unwilling to take

level. No desire to learn a

Understanding of procedural

procedure. Asks for critique.


direction. Poor effort in

more effective or efficient

skill. Attentive. Interested in

Efficient and effective

completing task in timely and


result and alternative methods.

technique. Usually works

acceptable manner







3. The Macy Report and the Liaison Committee for Medical Education (LCME)

What in the world is the Macy Report and why should you care? The Macy Foundation Report was published in 1995 and stated that “All students who graduate from medical school should be capable of handling emergency situations.” In addition, the LCME (governs accreditation of US medical schools) has stated that all medical students should be exposed to emergency medicine.

During your career, you will be called upon to evaluate and treat patients with urgent and emergent conditions. The skill set that you will learn during this rotation will be invaluable to you in your career, regardless of what specialty you choose.

4. The Emergency Medicine Rotation

Emergency Medicine Clerkship Course Attendance Requirements

A) Mandatory attendance at the emergency medicine student orientation is required. The medical student orientation will be held on the 1st day of each rotation block. All students should report to the Emergency Medicine conference room, 110 South Paca Street, 6th floor, Suite 200. Rare exceptions may be made on an individual basis if arrangements are made prior to the start of the rotation block.

B) Mandatory attendance for all clinical shifts is required to successfully complete the Emergency Medicine Clerkship. The clinical shifts are generally 8-10 hours in length. It is expected that you should stay and complete the work-up of the patient(s) (usually up to 30 minutes) that you are managing even if this is beyond the length of your shift. Inform the attending physician and resident before you leave the emergency department at the conclusion of your shift. This will help to insure that all patient related matters have been addressed.
C) All requests for switching shifts with another student need to be approved beforehand by the Director of Undergraduate Medical Education (Dr. Willis). Please e-mail the Director at Irongrip88@gmail.com for all requests.
D) If for any reason, you miss an assigned clinical shift (unexpected medical or personal emergency, etc.) please notify the Director or attending physician on duty. Please also send an email to the director to notify them of your absence. The EM rotation attendance policy allows for up to 3 excused absences. All excused absences (residency interviews, USMLE testing, etc.) need to be approved by the Director in advance. It is left up to the discretion of the Director as to how all excused and unexcused absences are handled. For example, students may need to make up missed shifts on previously scheduled days off, present a prepared topic, or take a written test. Individual situations will be handled on a case by case basis.

Unexcused absences or lateness is unprofessional, and will affect your final rotation grade. If you anticipate a scheduled absence such as a residency interview or USMLE II testing, please notify the Director as soon as possible so that the scheduling conflict can be resolved. It is the student’s responsibility to inform the Director of any anticipated absences (USMLE testing, etc.). If you have an unexpected medical illness or family emergency that will cause you to miss a clinical shift please try to contact the attending physician working in the ED and also notify the Director when possible. The attendance policy is strictly enforced.

F) There are a number of clinical labs that have been prepared for the medical students during each block. Attendance at each of these labs is required. You are excused from clinical duties while these labs are occurring.

G) Department of Emergency Medicine Grand Rounds occur on Wednesdays from 7:30 am till 12:30 pm. Attendance is required. Students who worked clinically Tuesday overnight are excused from Grand Rounds after the second hour is completed.
H) All clinical shifts and any non-clinical responsibilities must be completed by the end of the rotation block. Rare exceptions may be made on a case by case basis by the Director.
Rotation Requirements
The Emergency Department is now set up in Teams. You are assigned into teams on your schedule, either the Red team or the Blue team. Each team is made up of an EM attending, a 2nd or 3rd year EM resident, and an intern of various specialties. You are functioning at the level of the intern without the physician abilities like being able to order your own labs or medications. Your care of patients will be supervised by the upper level resident and the attending. However, your patients are YOUR patients. You are responsible for their care. The intern has their own patients to deal with. If the intern has an interesting patient and you would like to watch or even participate in their care, clear it with the upper level resident or attending first.
Sign in – sign out responsibilities
A) Be sure to be at your shift on time and ready to work. Unexcused tardiness is unprofessional and will be reflected in your final grade. Dress code is hospital scrubs or professional attire. Tee shirts, blue jeans, sweat shirts or other “street clothes” are not acceptable as they do not adhere to professional standards.

B) When you start a clinical shift, find the pod you will be working in (either Red or Blue team). All students should check in with the senior resident at the beginning of every shift.

C) Students should get sign out from the student who is leaving. This should be done with the senior resident and/or attending so that patient care is not compromised. Sign out should consist of a few lines detailing the patient’s problem and then the patient’s disposition (i.e. what labs are pending, what imaging is pending, is the patient supposed to go home or be admitted and what is needed to get that process started, etc.) Patients who are signed out to you are also your responsibility so be sure their plan of care is set in motion before picking up a new patient. It is not a bad idea to go into that patient’s room and introduce yourself as the student who is taking over.

D) If you are seeing a patient shortly before the end of your shift, and have not yet discussed the case with the senior EM resident or attending do not sign the case out to the next student. Be sure to tell the senior resident/attending about the patient before leaving. Also before leaving, you should discuss all of your cases that still have pending issues (labs, x-rays, disposition, etc.) with the senior EM resident or attending physician. Don’t just sign out to the next student and then leave.

E) Always inform the senior resident/attending physician before you leave the emergency department at the conclusion of your shift. This will help to insure that all patient related matters have been addressed.
Clinical responsibilities
A) You will be responsible for picking up charts in the “to-be-seen” rack and going to see the patient first. Patients with chest pain, as an example, should be seen alongside your resident. When you are going to pick up a chart, please check first with the attending and/or resident. Sometimes it will not be appropriate for you to see the patient first (unstable patient for example). Don’t be offended. Remember: patient care always comes first.
B) You should strive to spend NO MORE than 15 minutes in the room performing an initial history and physical examination. Focus on the chief complaint and why they came to the Emergency Department. Some patients are more complicated than others and may require additional time.

C) IMPORTANT!!! You are required to write up 25 patients you see in the Emergency Department. Try to focus on patients who have interesting cases or who have wide differential diagnoses (i.e. an 85 year old female with diffuse abdominal pain who is getting a CT scan). I will use these to evaluate your thinking process. Your first 10 should be on regular paper and should be very thorough. The last 15 can be done on T-sheets so you get used to using them. Include the differential diagnoses and the final disposition of the patient. You will turn these in at the end of the rotation as a part of your grade. Also, DO NOT put ANY of your documentation into the patient chart. Keep all papers with you at all times. If you are not writing the patient up, be sure to dispose of the patient’s information in the appropriate receptacle.

D) You will present cases directly to the upper level resident and/or attending who is working during your shift. The resident is responsible for seeing patients with you and teaching you.

The following is one way to present patients to residents and attendings. Please stick to this or some other type of format. Some attendings may want a different presentation format-be flexible. Keep presentations limited to 3-5 minutes

Presumed Top 3 Diagnoses:
Start your presentation by listing your top 3 diagnosis. It is OK to be wrong, just be ready to defend your
hypothesis. For example,” I believe this patient either has congestive heart failure or pneumonia.” This
introductory list lets the resident/attending know what you are thinking right up front.
Chief Complaint:
Patient’s chief complaint as listed on the chart or in their own words. Be brief.
Present a thorough but CONCISE history of present illness. For pain (chest, head, abdomen) perform
OLDCAAR-onset, location, duration, character, alleviating factors, aggravating factors, radiation. Pertinent
workup, pertinent positives/negatives belong here.
Pertinent Review of Records:
Example: chest pain. Has the patient ever presented with chest pain. Have they ever had a stress test, CT
scan, or cardiac catheterization?
Pertinent Medications/Allergies/Family and Social History:
Document all of this pertinent information BUT present only pertinent information.
Review of Systems:
Include only pertinent information. If the patient is in the ED for a thumb injury, you don’t need to say that
the patient denies chest pain, shortness of breath, etc. Include only the pertinent information that helps rule
in or out the diseases on your list of differential diagnoses.
Always start your physical examination with the vital signs. Should include pulse rate, blood pressure,
respiratory rate (20 means nobody measured), temperature, and pulse oximetery
Physical Examination:
Present a directed physical examination that addresses those areas pertinent to the chief complaint. You
may be asked to present a more in-depth examination depending on the complaint and the attending.
Differential Diagnoses:
Present a list of the emergent causes and common causes of the patient’s complaint. This is your chance to
list AT LEAST 5 entities. Tell the attending or resident what you think is going on with the patient and be
as it shows your ability to synthesize information and think. WHATEVER YOU DO, DO NOT

Included in your differential should be the “worst case scenario.” Every patient complaint should be assumed to be a symptom of a potentially life-threatening disease entity. All complaints (headache, chest pain, etc.) should be assumed to be a harbinger of “badness” until proven other wise. You should be ruling out the worst case scenario in all cases. This allows the attending and resident to see that you are thinking like an emergency physician.

Evaluation Plan:
Present your evaluation plan. What tests or imaging studies do you want to get. Be ready to defend this. Try
to determine how much or how little you think needs to be done. Again, THINK for yourself.
Anticipated Disposition:
Tell the attending or senior resident what you anticipate the disposition to be based on current findings and
based on the expected results of the tests you want to order. This will make you think of criteria for
admitting and discharging patients.
It is the students’ (and residents’) responsibility to discuss all cases with the attending. No patient should be discharged from the ED without the attending knowing about it.

E) Devise a care plan as above and carry out that care plan to the fullest. Order lab work, medications, and imaging studies as necessary. The upper level resident will have to co-sign your orders for them to be carried through. So when you have finished writing orders, be sure to inform the resident so that they can be co-signed.

F) Follow up on your orders on your patients. Don’t just order things and then pick up a new patient and forget about the old ones. Be a thorough physician. Re-evaluate the patient and see if the pain medication you just gave worked. When labwork comes back, let the resident know any abnormalities. If the patient needs a consult, you make the call and discuss the case with the consultant or admitting team. If the patient is to be discharged, you type up the paperwork for discharge and prescriptions. Let the resident AND the attending know before you discharge any patients.

G) During your assigned shift you are expected to pick up and carry at least 2 patients at the same time and no more than 4 patients. Typically, you should not be following more than this number of patients. Your resident will guide you on the appropriate number of patients to carry.

H) IMPORTANT!!! Great emphasis is placed on making sure students are comfortable performing procedures such as intravenous line placement. You should perform all necessary procedures on all of your patients (IVs, blood draws, etc). Do not delegate these tasks to the nurses or techs unless you need assistance. At the end of this packet is a procedure log. Log any and all procedures you perform during the rotation and have your resident or attending sign off on it. These sheets will be turned in at the end of the rotation and will be a part of your final grade.
Recommended procedures to be performed during the rotation

  • -Arterial blood gas

  • -Arthrocentesis (knee)

  • -Digital block

  • -Foley catheters

  • -Incision and drainage (abscess)

  • -Infiltration of local anesthesia

  • -Laceration repair (sutures)

  • -Lumbar puncture

  • -NG tube insertion

  • -Splinting (ankle, forearm/wrist)

            1. -Ultrasound (Should be trying to ultrasound anyone who is getting definitive

              1. imaging to compare your findings)

Any other procedures you perform (i.e. intubations, central lines, chest tubes) should be logged as well. The above list is simply a guide for procedures that should be performed if available.

IDs and computer access

You will fill out an information sheet during orientation in order to obtain an ID. IDs are made between 7:30-8:30am and 12:00-1:00pm beside the Shock Trauma auditorium. This can be done after the 11:30-12:15 lecture is finished.

Computer training can be accomplished by two different means. Computer training is held in the Greene Street building (across the street from the hospital) in room 335B Tuesdays between 8am and 4pm on a walk-in basis. You can also get computer access online. Completing this training is essential as you be using the computer system to order labs and imaging studies.

Emergency Medicine Rotation Pearls:

-Show up on time and be ready to work

-Don’t be overwhelmed by tasks that aren’t yours. Stick to your patients and “stay in your zone.” This will minimize the overwhelming nature of the ED.
-Patients you pick up belong to you. Immerse yourself in their care.
-Don’t report the patients history and physical to the resident and/or attending and wait for them to tell you what to do or to pimp you. Be assertive, and tell them your differential diagnosis, what you think is going on and why, and what your plan and disposition is. This is how you shine!
-You are not alone, so don’t feel overwhelmed. You have an attending and residents to help guide you if you really aren’t sure what the next step should be. Remember, you are here to learn! Have fun.
-Show enthusiasm, initiative, and interest during the EM rotation. You will have the best experience and make the best impression on evaluators.
-Know one's limitations and ask for help when needed.
-Over confidence at the student level will be perceived negatively.
-Focus on learning, providing good care to patients and getting the most that you can from the provided experiences.

-Follow cases through to completion of the pertinent ED work-up.

-Stay after your scheduled shifts to tie things up, esp. if the faculty attending does so.
-Ask to observe interesting cases and or procedures that you are not directly involved in.
-Dress and act professionally.

-Be non-judgmental about patient's diverse ethnic backgrounds, socioeconomic status, and variable levels of acuity of illness. Respect goes a long way!

-Be diligent in tracking down the studies you order on patients and keep your staff informed of the results.

-Be cognizant of personal safety - use universal precautions, seek help with potentially combative or violent patients.


Lectures will be held for you during the rotation and are given by emergency medicine faculty. We have an extraordinarily involved group of attendings who are very dedicated to medical student education. Student feedback has consistently indicated that the lectures are superb and cover clinical entities you are likely to see in the emergency department. You will be provided a schedule/location of the lectures on orientation day. You are expected to be at all lectures. If lectures are held during clinical shifts, you will be excused from clinical duties. Just let the attending and senior resident you are working with that day know that you need to leave to attend lecture. The lectures are designed to supplement the reading material.

In the very near future, we will be uploading audio and video presentations of some of the lectures to the residency website (www.umem.org) so that they can be listened to or viewed anytime.

Topics include the following:

  • Approach to chest pain

  • Approach to shortness of breath (adult)

  • Airway management

  • Pitfalls in the diagnosis of myocardial infarction

  • Approach to abdominal pain

  • Approach to wound care

  • Approach to shock

  • Approach to altered mental status

  • Approach to GI bleeding

  • Approach to headache

  • Risk Management

  • Approach to asthma

  • Use of sedatives and analgesics in the ED

  • Approach to ENT/Opthalmalogic emergencies

  • Approach to gynecologic emergencies

  • Approach to seizures

  • Approach to endocrine emergencies

  • Approach to the orthopedic examination

Lectures will be held during the first week of the rotation and are approximately 45-50 minutes in duration. A schedule of the lectures will be handed out during orientation.


Teaching labs are an integral part of the educational experience provided to medical students during the rotation. These include:

  • Procedure lab (held in the medical school anatomy lab)

  • Simulation lab (held in the School of Nursing)

  • Ultrasound lab

  • Splint lab

  • Suture lab

There will be a procedure lab (held in the Maryland State Board of Anatomy Lab at The School of Medicine) during your rotation. Procedures that will be taught include airway management, central lines, chest tubes, surgical airways, etc. This lab has been a traditional favorite among medical students.

Videos of all procedures can be found on the University of Maryland Residency website. Go to www.umem.org and click on “student opportunities.” In the far right column is a listing of procedure videos. ALL videos should be reviewed prior to the procedure lab date.

The San Francisco General Emergency Medicine Residency has a really impressive set of video clips on wound care and suture techniques. Please go to: http://www.emresidency.ucsf.edu/ and view these short but very important videos. Please view these before the suture lab.

Wednesday Grand Rounds and Conference

Every Wednesday our emergency medicine residents have their weekly didactic conference from 7:30 am- 12:30 pm. You are expected to attend all of the Wednesday lectures. In general, you will not have scheduled shifts on Wednesdays. Rarely, there will be random lecture hours that are only for the residents (administrative topics, documentation sessions). In these cases, there will sometimes be a “breakout session” for the students given by Dr. Willis or one of the other faculty members. Please remember to sign in for the Wednesday lectures. There should be a section on the signup sheets for students. If not, sign your name and indicate that you are a student at the bottom of one of the sheets. Attendance is mandatory and monitored. Please sign in on the resident sign-in sheet or a designated student sign-in sheet (at the bottom of the page). Failure to attend may adversely affect your grade.

Professional Code of Conduct

Everyone patient that you encounter in the emergency department should be treated as you would want a family member treated. You may see attitudes and behaviors that may be foreign to your value system, but you should deal with these professionally. You should treat all staff members (physicians, nurses, patient care assistants, etc.) with respect, and likewise, you should expect the same in return. If you are verbally or otherwise harassed, report this to the attending physician on duty and contact the emergency medicine clerkship director.

Disability Disclosure Statement

Any student who has a need for accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact Dr. Willis to discuss the specific situation.


Final grades are an average of the following:

  • Clinical performance 80%

Consists of:

-Evaluations from faculty

-Evaluations from residents

-Patient write-ups

-Procedure logs

-Participation in labs

  • Written examination 20%

Written Examination

A written examination will be given on the last day of the rotation and will consist of 30-40 multiple-choice questions and short answer/essay-type questions. Questions are taken from various sources, including the lectures given during the rotation, oral presentations, and reading assignments.

Sample multiple-choice question:

A 30 year-old male presents complaining of substernal chest pain of 4 hours duration. He describes the pain as worse with inspiration, worse in the supine position, and relieved with leaning forward. His chest x-ray is normal and his ECG shows diffuse ST segment elevation. Which of the following diagnoses is most likely?

A. aortic dissection

B. mediastinitis

C. myocardial infarction

D. pulmonary embolism

E. pericarditis

The correct answer is E.

Sample short answer question:

A 50 year-old male is brought in 911 for change in mental status. He is found to be obtunded. Describe, step by step, how you would approach this patient. Describe in detail any intervention, diagnostic procedure, or medication you feel is indicated.

Dress Code

Students should dress professionally. Scrubs are acceptable but should be matching. I would recommend that you wear a white coat while working clinically. In addition, on days when there are lectures or labs, please dress professionally. Shorts, sandals, flip flops are NOT acceptable attire. Remember, what you wear matters. Your appearance may affect your final grade.

Feedback for the Rotation

We take feedback about the rotation and faculty very seriously. We are constantly trying to improve the rotation and to provide the very best educational experience possible.

You will receive an e-mail with a link to a rotation evaluation/survey. This evaluation must be completed. Please provide constructive feedback.

Final grades will not be assigned until feedback forms have been filled out.

In addition, the rotation evaluation survey will contain questions about the best teaching attending and resident. Please make sure you fill out every portion of the evaluation.

Reading List for the Rotation

The textbook resource for the rotation will be “An Introduction to Clinical Emergency Medicine-Guide for Practitioners in the Emergency Department.” (authors-SV Mahadevan and Gus Garmel) It is a fantastic book and is considered to be the best book out there for students interested in emergency medicine. It will be provided for you during the rotation.

    1. All of the following chapters should be read:

      1. o Approach to the emergency department patient (page 3-18)

      2. o Abdominal pain (page 145-160)

      3. o Allergic reaction (page 171-178)

      4. o Airway management (page 19-45)

      5. o Appendices A, B, and C (page 681-723)

      6. o Chest pain (page 193-210)

      7. o Diabetic emergencies (page 225-232)

      8. o GI Bleeding (page 365-374)

      9. o Headache (page 375-392)

      10. o Shortness of breath (page 485-502)

      11. o Syncope (page 517-530)

      12. o Seizures (page 473-484)

      13. o Shock (page 85-92)

      14. o Trauma (page 93-116)

  • Examination questions may come from these chapters.

  • Read the chapters before the lecture.

Optional Sessions

If enough interest exists, an optional session on applying to emergency medicine residency, preparing a CV, and other related issues will be given by Dr. Willis.

If time allows, there will be additional presentation on visual pearls in emergency medicine. This is essentially a pictorial review of diagnoses seen in the emergency department. The presentation has been a favorite among medical students over the past few years. Clinical photos, CT scans, x-rays, and other interesting tidbits will be shown.

All of the following must be turned in or completed before a final grade can be released:

  • Rotation/faculty/lecture evaluation

  • 25 Patient write-ups

  • The textbook

  • Final written examination

  • ED Procedure Log

5. Resources for Students Interested in Emergency Medicine

Medical Student Emergency Medicine Webpages
American Academy of Emergency Medicine (www.aaem.org)

This is an excellent resource for students. Go to the section for resident/student and click on resources. Also, you can sign up for FREE access to “Rules of the Road”-a great guide for students interested in emergency medicine.

Emergency Medicine Residents Association Student Page (http://www.emra.org/Content.aspx?id=283)

This is another excellent resource for students interested in EM. Joining ACEP will get you free membership in EMRA.

Society for Academic Emergency Medicine Medical Student Homepage
Emergency Medicine Resident Organizations

Emergency Medicine Residents Association (www.emra.org)

Emergency Medicine Organizations

  • American Academy of Emergency Medicine (www.aaem.org)

  • American College of Emergency Physicians (www.acep.org)

  • American College of Osteopathic Emergency Physicians (www.acoep.org)

  • Society for Academic Emergency Medicine (www.saem.org)

  • American Board of Emergency Medicine (www.abem.org)

Residency Application

  • Emergency Medicine Residents Association Match Guide (www.emramatch.org)

Emergency Medicine Residents Association Student Page (www.emra.org/students.cfm)

  • National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) (www.nrmp.org)

What do Emergency Medicine program directors look for in a candidate? (borrowed from Gus Garmel)

The 9 Ps:

Performance-especially in core rotations and emergency medicine electives. Most programs emphasize clinical over preclinical abilities and test scores

Productivity-research projects, manuscripts, extracurricular activities, leadership roles, volunteerism, etc.

Professionalism-attitude, interaction, appearance.

Personality-are you a “good fit” for the specialty of EM?

Preparation-Are you aware of the “hot topics” in EM? (see separate presentation on the residency application process) How much do you know about the specialty?

Persistence-Are you willing to demonstrate (appropriate) persistence? This includes learning habits, replies to interviews, expressing interest in a program, and timely, personal thank you notes to faculty interviewers.

Punctuality-Do you meet deadlines, show up early or on time for your interview, clinical duties, didactic sessions, etc? This is VERY important in our specialty.

Passion-Are you passionate about training in EM?

Potential-Does the program director feel that you have the potential to represent the specialty of EM and the program well, and to be an outstanding resident?
Contact Information

George C. Willis, MD FAAEM

Director of Undergraduate Medical Education
Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine
Office: 410-328-8025

Please let me know if you have any questions or if I can help you in any way!

Emergency Department Procedure Log


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Have a resident or attending initial every procedure you perform. Print out more forms as needed.

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