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Emergency medicine specialist

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Summary of occupation

Emergency medicine specialists identify and immediately manage serious and life-threatening situations. They face a wide range of medical and surgical problems, and as such need general expertise across many areas. Their main role is to care for and stabilise critically-ill patients of all age groups.

In emergency medicine every day is different and unpredictable and specialists can encounter anything from patients with sore throats to those who have been in major accidents.

The majority of emergency medicine specialists practising in Western Australia, do so in the Perth metropolitan area.

ANZSCO description: Provides diagnostic medical services, and manages patients with acute and urgent illness and injury. Registration or licensing is required.
Alternative names: Emergency Medical Practitioner, Emergency Physician, Emergency Specialist
Job prospects: Average
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

An emergency medicine specialist needs:

  • the ability to make quick decisions and multi-task
  • resilience and an awareness of one's limitations
  • good interpersonal and organisational skills
  • an extremely broad knowledge base of medicine including anatomy, pathology, physiology and pharmacology
  • an understanding of prehospital and inhospital emergency medical system developments
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Working conditions

Emergency medicine is highly intensive - most work opportunities are in emergency departments of public hospitals.

The emergency department is often a hectic and pressured environment. Emergency medicine is one of the most hands-on specialities with constant variety.

Specialists work flexible, rostered (some shift) hours with some on-call responsibilities. Specialists are not responsible for their patients once they have left the emergency department.

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Salary details

Emergency medical specialists can expect to earn between $2 692.31 and $3 461.54 per week ($140 000 and $180 000 a year) depending on the organisation they work for and their level of experience. As an emergency medical specialist develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase. ​

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Tools and technologies

Emergency medicine specialists are generalists and as such need to have a broad understanding of tools and technologies needed to diagnose, resuscitate and carry out procedures for every major illness that can occur. For example, it is expected that emergency medicine specialists can:

  • interpret diagnostic imaging
  • apply pharmacological knowledge (including recent developments and reviews of drugs)
  • use knowledge to select and manage appropriate equipment.
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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become an emergency medicine specialist, you must first become a qualified medical practitioner and then specialise in emergency medicine.

In Western Australia, postgraduate courses in medicine are offered by the University of Notre Dame and the University of Western Australia. These degrees usually take four years to complete. Entry requirements include completion of a bachelor degree in any discipline. You must also sit the Graduate Australian Medical Schools Admissions Test and attend an interview at your chosen institution. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

On completion of the postgraduate medical degree, you must work in the public hospital system for two years (internship and residency). To specialise in emergency medicine, doctors can apply to Australasian College for Emergency Medicine to undertake further training and ultimately receive Fellowship.​

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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