Pediatric Emergency Medicine
What does a Pediatric Emergency Medicine (PEM) physician do?
What are the career opportunities?
What Board, if any, certifies a PEM program graduate?
What is the lifestyle of a PEM physician?
What is the compensation of a PEM physician?
How do I become a PEM physician?
Where do I find out about available programs?
When do I apply?
Why should I choose to become a PEM physician ?
PEM trained physicians may serve in a variety of capacities that include clinical, advocacy, education, research, and legislative/policy development. The PEM physician is responsible for the initial care of any child who comes to the emergency department with a wide array of conditions from ranging from simple to highly complex. On any given day, a PEM physician may provide care for a child struck by an automobile, a patient with a metabolic disorder that is not responding to therapy, a child with an asthma attack, a victim of child abuse, a jaundiced newborn with a fever and a hypothermic child after a near-drowning episode, or a wide variety of behavioral conditions. In the clinical realm, they provide care for critically ill and injured children in an Emergency Department setting. In addition to knowledge that is obtained during their pediatric or emergency medicine residency training, PEM physicians have an increased fund of knowledge in areas such as advanced procedural skills such as advanced airway management, procedural sedation, critical care, and forensic pediatrics.
Beyond the clinical realm, PEM physicians may have multiple roles in the emergency department, hospital, healthcare system and community. These include contributing to the education of residents, medical or other health care students, paramedics or community members. PEM physicians may also become involved in hospital committees that examine the quality of pediatric emergency care or work with local, regional or national politicians to discuss specific issues in improving the health of children. There are a variety of ways to champion the causes of children within PEM. More information can be found through the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) section on Pediatric Emergency Medicine.
PEM physicians often work in either an academic or community emergency department, but many roles exist outside of the clinical care. For clinical careers, the majority of opportunities exist within tertiary or quarternary care children’s hospitals. However, PEM physicians may also work in a hospital with an emergency medicine residency where their specific pediatric expertise is needed or in a community hospital that evaluates a significant number of children. There are also numerous opportunities in non-clinical areas including administration, research, education, simulation or injury prevention.
Both the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) and the American Board of Emergency Medicine (ABEM) certify graduates from their respective primary residencies. After passing primary residency boards, and meeting both the ACGME and specific fellowship requirements for board eligibility, a fellowship graduate will take a one-day written examination.
On average, PEM physicians spend 65% of their time in clinical care balanced by spending time in any of the following areas: administrative, education, and research roles. Children have a tendency to be seen in the emergency department during hours when they are often not in school, so PEM physician clinical time will be concentrated during afternoon, evenings, holidays and weekends. The number of shifts will vary significantly within facilities and between different facilities depending on other non-clinical roles the practitioner plays.
PEM physicians generally receive higher compensation then general pediatricians, and somewhat less then emergency physicians, depending on the type of practice.
Following successful completion of a residency in either Pediatrics or Emergency Medicine, applicants will complete an additional two years of fellowship (EM residency graduates) or three years (Pediatric residency graduates). Irrespective of the type of residency, selection of fellows is through the Pediatric Specialties Fall Match administered by the NRMP.
Information about programs is available through ERAS Fellowships, FREIDA and the ACGME (depending upon the residency, select either Emergency Medicine/Pediatric emergency medicine or Pediatrics/Pediatric emergency medicine).
Applications are accepted beginning in mid-summer (11 months prior to matriculation) utilizing ERAS (for both types of residencies). Interviews generally begin in late summer through the fall, and match results are reported the first week of December. For match statistics, click here.
Combining the best of general pediatrics with the best of the critical care specialties, Pediatric Emergency Medicine is a good fit for calm, curious physicians who enjoy both the intellectual and procedural challenge of resuscitations as well as the joy of interacting with minimally ill children during an exam. As one of the younger specialties within Pediatrics, and the first subspecialty within Emergency Medicine, there are areas of significant growth and the ongoing potential for significant, clinically relevant research that will significantly affect the care of children.
For more information about Pediatric Emergency Medicine, visit these websites:
Pediatric Subspecialties: the need is huge, the careers are stimulating, and the rewards are amazing.
To access a recording of the 1-hour CoPS Pediatric Subspecialties Webinar Series on 2/27/23 featuring a panel discussion about careers in Pediatric Emergency Medicine, please use this Link.