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Become An Emergency Room Physician

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Working As An Emergency Room Physician

  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Hazardous Environment

  • Make Decisions

  • $180,320

    Average Salary

What Does An Emergency Room Physician Do

Physicians and surgeons diagnose and treat injuries or illnesses. Physicians examine patients; take medical histories; prescribe medications; and order, perform, and interpret diagnostic tests. They often counsel patients on diet, hygiene, and preventive healthcare. Surgeons operate on patients to treat injuries, such as broken bones; diseases, such as cancerous tumors; and deformities, such as cleft palates.

There are two types of physicians, with corresponding degrees: M.D. (Medical Doctor) and D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine). Both use the same methods of treatment, including drugs and surgery, but D.O.s place additional emphasis on the body's musculoskeletal system, preventive medicine, and holistic (whole-person) patient care. D.O.s are most likely to be primary care physicians, although they can be found in all specialties.


Physicians and surgeons typically do the following:

  • Take a patient’s medical history
  • Update charts and patient information to show current findings and treatments
  • Order tests for nurses or other healthcare staff to perform
  • Review test results to identify any abnormal findings
  • Recommend and design a plan of treatment
  • Address concerns or answer questions that patients have about their health and well-being
  • Help patients take care of their health by discussing topics such as proper nutrition and hygiene

Physicians and surgeons work in one or more specialties. The following are examples of types of physicians and surgeons:

Anesthesiologists focus on the care of surgical patients and on pain relief. They administer drugs (anesthetics) that reduce or eliminate the sensation of pain during an operation or another medical procedure. During surgery, they are responsible for adjusting the amount of anesthetic as needed and monitoring the patient's heart rate, body temperature, blood pressure, and breathing. They also work outside of the operating room, providing pain relief in the intensive care unit, during labor and delivery of babies, and for patients who suffer from chronic pain. Anesthesiologists work with other physicians and surgeons to decide on treatments and procedures before, during, and after surgery. 

Family and general physicians assess and treat a range of conditions that occur in everyday life. These conditions include anything from sinus and respiratory infections to broken bones. Family and general physicians typically have regular, long-term patients.

General internists diagnose and provide nonsurgical treatment for a range of problems that affect internal organ systems such as the stomach, kidneys, liver, and digestive tract. Internists use a variety of diagnostic techniques to treat patients through medication or hospitalization. They work mostly with adult patients.

General pediatricians provide care for infants, children, teenagers, and young adults. They specialize in diagnosing and treating problems specific to younger people. Most pediatricians treat common illnesses, minor injuries, and infectious diseases, and administer vaccinations. Some pediatricians specialize in pediatric surgery or serious medical conditions that commonly affect younger patients, such as autoimmune disorders or chronic ailments.

Obstetricians and gynecologists (OB/GYNs) provide care related to pregnancy, childbirth, and the female reproductive system. They treat and counsel women throughout their pregnancy and deliver babies. They also diagnose and treat health issues specific to women, such as breast cancer, cervical cancer, hormonal disorders, and symptoms related to menopause.

Psychiatrists are primary mental health physicians. They diagnose and treat mental illnesses through a combination of personal counseling (psychotherapy), psychoanalysis, hospitalization, and medication. Psychotherapy involves regular discussions with patients about their problems. The psychiatrist helps them find solutions through changes in their behavioral patterns, explorations of their past experiences, or group and family therapy sessions. Psychoanalysis involves long-term psychotherapy and counseling for patients. Psychiatrists may prescribe medications to correct chemical imbalances that cause some mental illnesses.

Surgeons treat injuries, diseases, and deformities through operations. Using a variety of instruments, a surgeon corrects physical deformities, repairs bone and tissue after injuries, or performs preventive or elective surgeries on patients. Although a large number perform general surgery, many surgeons choose to specialize in a specific area. Specialties include orthopedic surgery (the treatment of the musculoskeletal system), neurological surgery (treatment of the brain and nervous system), cardiovascular surgery, and plastic or reconstructive surgery. Like other physicians, surgeons examine patients, perform and interpret diagnostic tests, and counsel patients on preventive healthcare. Some specialist physicians also perform surgery.

Physicians and surgeons may work in a number of other medical and surgical specialties and subspecialties. The following specialists are some of the most common examples:

  • Allergists (specialists in diagnosing and treating hay fever or other allergies)
  • Cardiologists (heart specialists)
  • Dermatologists (skin specialists)
  • Gastroenterologists (digestive system specialists)
  • Ophthalmologists (eye specialists)
  • Pathologists (specialists who study body tissue to see if it is normal or abnormal)
  • Radiologists (specialists who review and interpret x rays and other images and deliver radiation treatments for cancer and other illnesses)

Physicians work daily with other healthcare staff, such as registered nurses, other physicians, medical assistants, and medical records and health information technicians.

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How To Become An Emergency Room Physician

Physicians and surgeons have demanding education and training requirements. Almost all physicians complete at least 4 years of undergraduate school, 4 years of medical school, and, depending on their specialty, 3 to 7 years in internship and residency programs.


Most applicants to medical school have at least a bachelor's degree, and many have advanced degrees. Although no specific major is required, all students must complete undergraduate work in biology, chemistry, physics, math, and English. Students also take courses in the humanities and social sciences. In addition, some students volunteer at local hospitals or clinics to gain experience in a healthcare setting.

Medical schools are highly competitive. Most applicants must submit transcripts, scores from the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), and letters of recommendation. Schools also consider an applicant’s personality, leadership qualities, and participation in extracurricular activities. Most schools require applicants to interview with members of the admissions committee.

A few medical schools offer combined undergraduate and medical school programs that last 6 or 7 years.

Students spend most of the first 2 years of medical school in laboratories and classrooms, taking courses such as anatomy, biochemistry, pharmacology, psychology, medical ethics, and the laws governing medicine. They also gain practical skills, learning to take medical histories, examine patients, and diagnose illnesses.

During their last 2 years, medical students work with patients under the supervision of experienced physicians in hospitals and clinics. Through rotations in internal medicine, family practice, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, psychiatry, and surgery, they gain experience in diagnosing and treating illnesses in a variety of areas.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Physicians and surgeons need to be excellent communicators. They must be able to communicate effectively with their patients and other healthcare support staff.

Compassion. Physicians and surgeons deal with patients who are sick or injured and may be in extreme pain or distress. Physicians and surgeons must be able to treat patients and their families with compassion and understanding.

Detail oriented. Physicians and surgeons must ensure that patients are receiving appropriate treatment and medications. They must also monitor and record various pieces of information related to patient care.

Dexterity. Physicians and surgeons must be good at working with their hands. They may work with very precise and sometimes sharp tools, and mistakes can have serious consequences.

Leadership skills. Physicians who work in their own practice need to be effective leaders. They must be able to manage a staff of other professionals to run their practice.

Organizational skills. Some physicians own their own practice. Strong organizational skills, including good recordkeeping, are critical in both medical and business settings.

Patience. Physicians and surgeons may work for long periods with patients who need special attention. Persons who fear medical treatment may require more patience.

Physical stamina. Physicians and surgeons should be comfortable performing physical tasks, such as lifting or turning disabled patients. Surgeons may spend a great deal of time bending over patients during surgery.

Problem-solving skills. Physicians and surgeons need to evaluate patients’ symptoms and administer the appropriate treatments. They need to do this quickly if a patient’s life is threatened.


After medical school, almost all graduates enter a residency program in their specialty of interest. A residency usually takes place in a hospital and varies in duration, generally lasting from 3 to 7 years, depending on the specialty.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

All states require physicians and surgeons to be licensed; requirements vary by state. To qualify for a license, candidates must graduate from an accredited medical school and complete residency training in their specialty.

All physicians and surgeons also must pass a standardized national licensure exam. M.D.s take the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). D.O.s take the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX-USA). For specific state information about licensing, contact your state’s medical board. 

Certification is not required for physicians and surgeons; however, it may increase their employment opportunities. M.D.s and D.O.s seeking board certification in a specialty may spend up to 7 years in residency training; the length of time varies with the specialty. To become board certified, candidates must complete a residency program and pass a specialty certification exam from the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), or the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS).

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Emergency Room Physician jobs


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Emergency Room Physician Demographics










Hispanic or Latino






Black or African American

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Languages Spoken


















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Emergency Room Physician Education


State University of New York Buffalo


University of Miami


Florida International University


Walden University


Louisiana State University at Shreveport


Drexel University


George Washington University


Central State University


University of Florida


Arizona State University


University of Kentucky


Emory University


University of Nebraska Medical Center


New York University


Harvard University


Wayne State University


American University


University of the Sciences


University of Toledo


University of New Haven

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Physician Assistant




Health Care Administration




Public Health






Osteopathic Medicine


Medical Assisting Services


Medical Technician


Health/Medical Preparatory Programs


Physiology And Anatomy


Biochemistry, Biophysics, Molecular Biology




Veterinary Science


Health Sciences And Services


Clinical Psychology




Nursing Assistants

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Real Emergency Room Physician Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Emergency Room Physician Anderson Regional Medical Center Meridian, MS Jun 24, 2015 $438,270
Emergency Room Physician Anderson Regional Medical Center Meridian, MS Sep 15, 2012 $438,270
Emergency Room Physcian Greater Houston Emergency Physicians, PLLC Del Rio, TX Aug 01, 2013 $375,660
Emergency Department Physician Mayo Clinic Austin, MN Nov 02, 2016 $358,000
Emergency Physician Steel Valley Emergency Physicians, LLC Steubenville, OH Apr 01, 2014 $332,800
Emergency Room Physician Breech Regional Medical Center Lebanon, MO Jul 01, 2010 $317,200
Emergency Department Physician Ellis Hospital Schenectady, NY Jan 09, 2016 $313,050
Emergency Department Physician Golden Heart Emergency Physicians, PC Fairbanks, AK Jan 02, 2011 $313,050
Physician-Emergency Department GWU Medical Faculty Associates Washington, DC Jan 01, 2015 $313,050
Emergency Department Physician Ellis Hospital Schenectady, NY Jan 11, 2016 $313,050
Emergency Department Physician Golden Heart Emergency Physicians Inc. Fairbanks, AK Jan 02, 2011 $313,050
Pediatric Emergency Room Physician Emergency Care Specialists, PC Grand Rapids, MI Oct 01, 2015 $310,963
Emergency Room Physician GUAM Memorial Hospital Authority Jan 20, 2014 $270,400
Emergency Department Physician Inland Hospital Waterville, ME Aug 31, 2016 $254,985
Emergency Physician Granite State Emergency Physicians PC Manchester, NH Sep 01, 2015 $252,000
Staff Emergency Room Physician Northeast Tennessee Emergency Physicians, P.C. Rogersville, TN Jan 07, 2016 $250,440 -
Emergency Physician Hartford Hospital Hartford, CT Jul 01, 2010 $250,440
Emergency Room Physician Emergency Physicians Medical Group of Mi, P.C. Wyandotte, MI Jul 01, 2010 $250,440 -
Emergency Room Physician EPMG of Michigan P C Wyandotte, MI Jul 01, 2010 $250,440 -
Emergency Room Physician Department of Veterans Affairs, Eastern Ks Health Topeka, KS Jan 01, 2014 $220,000
Physician-Emergency Services Midwest Emergency Department Specialists, Ltd. Jacksonville, IL Apr 22, 2014 $219,135 -
Emergency Physician Victoria Emergency Associates, LLC Victoria, TX Oct 05, 2009 $219,135
Emergency Physician The Health Care Authority of The City of Huntsvill Huntsville, AL Oct 29, 2013 $218,400
Emergency Physician Emergency Physicians of Salina, LLC Salina, KS Sep 01, 2009 $216,000
Emergency Physician Emergency Physicians of Salina, LLC Salina, KS Oct 01, 2009 $216,000
Emergency Physician Emergency Physicians of Salina, LLC Salina, KS Sep 10, 2009 $216,000

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Top Skills for An Emergency Room Physician


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Top Emergency Room Physician Skills

  1. Emergency Medicine
  2. Major Trauma
  3. Physical Examination
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Full range of emergency medicine; medical director emergency services; paramedic and EMT instructor/trainer
  • Initial evaluation and stabilization of major trauma, and medical emergencies.
  • Recommended the required diagnostic tests based on medical history and results of physical examination.
  • Assist Emergency room Physicians with suturing lacerations.
  • Assisted attending physician in all aspects of medical care (diagnosis, delivery and minor surgery).

Top Emergency Room Physician Employers