EM Rotation Resources for Medical Students

Author: Linda Katirji MD, Associate Director of Medical Student Education, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, on behalf of the CORD Advising Students Committee in Emergency Medicine

The emergency medicine away rotation has become an important part of a fourth year medical student’s application for residency. Because of this, students should strive to put their best foot forward on their rotations. The amount of resources (especially with so much #FOAMed) can be overwhelming for some. Below are some high yield resources that medical students on audition rotations may find beneficial to review before and during their rotation.

For a general overview of the emergency medicine rotation, check out the Emergency Medicine Clerkship Primer. This is a thorough guide for most of the important aspects of the EM clerkship produced by the Clerkship Directors in Emergency Medicine (CDEM).

On presenting patients:

Adapting to the emergency medicine style of presenting patients can be difficult initially. For better or or worse, student’s case presentations are the main way that many teachers will judge the abilities of rotating students. It is important for students to be familiar with this presentation style.

The 3 Minute Emergency Medicine Medical Student Presentation – A good, concise resource that outlines the student presentation as well as highlights strategies of teaching this for educators.

EMRA’s Patient Presentation in Emergency Medicine – A short video from EMRA which outlines many of the concepts in “The 3 Minute Emergency Medicine Medical Student presentation”.

On procedures:

Procedures are a large part of Emergency Medicine and eventually becoming competent with them is necessary. One of the questions many medical students starting their Emergency Medicine rotations have is what procedures they should be able to perform on their EM rotations. Experience with procedures varies widely in different medical school curricula, but in general your experience in the ED will provide you exposure to many procedures that you may not get to see on other rotations.

The Vocal Cord – EM Procedure Resources – A previous post on The Vocal Cord which provides resources for many of the procedures emergency medicine physicians are expected to be proficient at.

On common presentations:

There are many resources for common chief complaints and presentations in the ED. These can be used on shift to help guide the student when creating their differential diagnosis and treatment plan.

CDEM M4 Curriculum – Approaches to common chief complaints and presentations in the ED – with differential diagnoses, workup, treatment and pearls and pitfalls.

Wikiem – This is an open access reference resource that also has an app for iphone. Includes suggested work up for different chief complaints and diagnoses.

On ultrasound:

There is no doubt that ultrasound competency is a cornerstone of the practice of Emergency Medicine. Mastering ultrasound is imperative during residency, however exposure and training still varies widely between medical schools. Most EM programs will likely not expect you to be a master of the ultrasound, however having some previous exposure to the basic concepts and frequent studies performed in the ED will decrease the learning curve and earn the student more opportunities.

5 Min Sono – This is a great resource for basic and advanced ultrasound. Provides 5 minutes (or 5 second!) tutorials for ultrasounds, also a handy reference values page.

On EKGs:

Much like ultrasound, EM programs will not expect fourth year medical students to be experts in EKG interpretation, however having a basic understanding can enhance your fourth year rotation and make you look like a rockstar. Below are some resources to help with basic interpretation of EKGs as well as those to review specific diagnoses.

Rapid Interpretation of EKGs – Dubin’s book, “Rapid Interpretation of EKGs” has been a mainstay in EKG interpretation for medical students and residents. You can purchase the book here, but for a great basic outline, you can read the PDF here.

University of Utah School of Medicine ECG Learning Center – Also comes with a great PDF outline of the website (here).

Life in the Fast Lane: ECG Clinical Interpretation A to Z by Diagnosis – A great resource to look up EKGs by diagnosis.


If you know of other high quality resources, which may benefit students on away rotations, please share those in the comments below.  

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