emergency department

How to become an emergency physician

Find out everything you need to know to become an emergency physician
Emergency physicians work in the fast-paced and unpredictable environment of the emergency department, where they must make rapid decisions to address critical medical needs. Their primary focus is on diagnosing and managing a wide range of medical conditions and injuries that require urgent attention.

1. Complete a medical degree

The journey to becoming an emergency physician starts with gaining a medical degree.

Our Doctor of Medicine (MD) program is a masters-level degree that provides students with world-class clinical and research training. This is a four-year full-time program undertaken after satisfactory performance in an eligible bachelor’s degree.*

The Doctor of Medicine can also be taken as part of a combined degree in the Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Medicine, or Bachelor of Arts and Doctor of Medicine.

On completion of the Doctor of Medicine, graduates are eligible for provisional registration with the Medical Board of Australia as a medical practitioner.

2. Already completed a medical degree?

The first three years after medical school is spent gaining general registration and hospital experience. This can be done in conjunction with our postgraduate coursework degrees in critical care medicine at differing levels to help you specialise in emergency medicine. These include a Graduate Certificate in Medicine (Critical Care Medicine), Graduate Diploma in Medicine (Critical Care Medicine) and Master of Medicine (Critical Care Medicine).

Our range of critical care postgraduate coursework degrees have been designed by critical care clinicians for doctors who specialise in emergency medicine, anaesthetics and intensive care medicine. These are available to any candidate who has completed a medical degree.

Our coursework degrees include basic sciences, retrieval medicine and pain management, teaching in simulation and clinical communication and decision making relevant to the practice of critical care. You will gain insights and understanding of how research informs practice and undertake a critical appraisal of the evidence guiding practice in an area of critical care medicine.

3. Learn in a distinctive teaching environment

Our students benefit from the abundance of learning opportunities and access to clinicians in the Emergency Department.

Whether you want to see patients, learn procedures or discuss management, emergency medicine provides a wealth of clinical material, and the University of Sydney offers the learning environment to help you succeed.

We are committed to enriching students in an experiential teaching environment and on producing emergency physicians with excellent patient care and the ability to promote positive multidisciplinary team interactions.

Our study options have been designed to connect you with clinical and academic leaders in this field, allowing you to stand out in a competitive profession. What you learn will also assist you in passing the entry examinations of the relevant colleges, fulfilling their research requirements.

4. Undertake emergency medicine (EM) training

Training in emergency medicine in Australia and New Zealand is overseen by ACEM (Australasian College for Emergency Medicine). It is divided into four training stages (TS).

TS1 starts in the fourth year after you’ve completed your medical degree. You can enter this training stage if you’re nominated by institutional references and deemed suitable for the program. In order to move to the next stage (TS2), you’ll need to pass the primary exam. During the rest of emergency medicine training, you’ll need to complete critical care terms as well as subspecialty areas of interest such as medical education, ultrasound, toxicology, trauma, or medicine.

The total training time to become an Emergency Physician is a minimum of five years and requires completion of a research project and fellowship exam to demonstrate competence. Our Master of Medicine (Critical Care Medicine) will enable you to fulfil the research requirement of the ACEM training.

4. Start your new career

Emergency Physicians are in high demand and work in a range of clinical settings. Many choose to focus their expertise in community hospitals, medical centres, or specialised emergency departments where they provide acute care to patients with a wide range of medical conditions and injuries.

Emergency physicians can leverage their medical expertise to work as consultants for healthcare organisations, government agencies, or private companies involved in healthcare.

For those with an interest in research, there’s the option to pursue careers in medical research, focusing on topics related to emergency medicine. They may work in clinical trials, public health research, or medical device development. They may also take on administrative roles within hospitals or healthcare organisations. These positions involve managing emergency departments, quality improvement initiatives, or hospital administration. They can also involve becoming hospital CEOs, chief medical officers, or directors of emergency services.

Graduates with a passion for humanitarian work can pursue careers in global health or disaster medicine. They may work with organisations like Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) or respond to natural disasters and humanitarian crises.

*The Doctor of Medicine (MD) replaced the University of Sydney’s previously offered Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) in 2014. Graduades of the MBBS also meet the requirements to undertake our postgraduate coursework degrees in Critical Care Medicine.

17 October 2023

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