You’re a doctor 11 hours into your shift, and you’ve just walked into a waiting area packed with patients. There’s an elderly man complaining of mild chest pain, a teenage girl whose arms are swollen with bee stings, and an ambulance that is bringing in two unresponsive kids from a car crash. What do you do next?
Welcome to a typical day on the job for doctors in emergency departments: the most intense department in any hospital, and home to the kind of split-second decision making, high-stress troubleshooting, and rapid medical detective work that can make the difference between a patient’s life and death.
Unlike scheduled doctor appointments, no one actually plans to end up in an emergency room. Few of us think about the nature of emergency medicine: the grueling training medical students endure; the insights into ailments, injuries, and illnesses doctors must always keep in the back of their minds; the preternatural skills required to ferret out clues a patient might have overlooked (or might not want to share).
By following emergency doctors as they deal with patients and make accurate diagnoses, you can:
- Get the same on-the-ground, case-by-case learning experience that medical students get when going through their emergency department rotations.
- Learn how medical emergencies ranging from allergic reactions to concussions to heart attacks are diagnosed and treated.
- Be better able to communicate with doctors and nurses in the unfortunate event that you, or a family member or friend, ends up in the emergency department.
- Learn basic preventive health measures that could keep you out of an emergency room yourself.
With Medical School for Everyone: Emergency Medicine, The Great Courses gives you the chance to experience for yourself the high-stakes drama, scientific detective work, and medical insights of life in an everyday emergency department. Presented by board-certified physician and popular educator Dr. Roy Benaroch of Emory University’s School of Medicine, these 24 lectures are a thrilling introduction to emergency medicine and the emergency department educational experiences of medical students around the world. As you shadow Dr. Benaroch on his shifts, and sometimes even venture off-site, you’ll encounter patients coming in with a variety of symptoms and complaints—some of which are easily diagnosed and treated, and some of which are more life-threatening than they first appear. By the end of this 24-lecture rotation, you’ll have a stronger knowledge of, and greater respect for, emergency medicine and the brave doctors who practice it.
Discover How Emergency Doctors Work
Every lecture of Medical School for Everyone: Emergency Medicine keeps you on your toes and brings you up close and personal with the common and uncommon medical emergencies that emergency doctors encounter throughout their careers. At the heart of each emergency case are powerful examples of:
- how emergency doctors think on their feet;
- how emergency doctors determine what’s really wrong with a patient;
- how emergency doctors rule in, or out, certain diagnoses; and
- how emergency doctors counsel patients and families on improving health.
Emergency medicine, according to Dr. Benaroch, is about helping patients and making difficult decisions with information that is often insufficient or equivocal. These lectures invite you to peer over his shoulder as he meets with patients:
- A schoolteacher named Claire has recurring bouts of abdominal pain that reveal how emergency doctors use the “OLD CAAAR” mnemonic device to remember the specific questions that need to be asked every time they evaluate someone complaining of generalized pain.
- Individuals of various ages illustrate symptoms of different chest pain complaints, including myocardial infarctions (the medical term for a heart attack), myocarditis (a disease of the heart muscle), and pneumothorax (when air appears between the lung and the chest wall).
- A three-week-old child helps you understand how emergency doctors risk-stratify fevers in newborns, where every fever (even a brief one) could be the sign of a serious infection that a newborn cannot easily fight off.
- Mrs. Donahue, an elderly woman with dementia, whose mysterious case highlights a maxim that Dr. Benaroch lives by: If you still don’t know what’s going on with a patient after taking their history, investigate the medications (many of which often have adverse side effects or negative interactions).
Experience Everyday Life in an Emergency Department
Dr. Benaroch’s lectures are filled with fascinating insights into the experiences of emergency department doctors. These insights will broaden your understanding of what it takes to save a human life, break down preconceived notions about how emergency medicine works, and strengthen your appreciation for what it takes to perform one of the most stressful jobs on the planet.
Some of the fascinating revelations that are uncovered include:
- You don’t want to be someone who’s rushed through an emergency department without having to wait. The only way to get to the “front of the line” during triage is to be the sickest patient in the department—and to make sure no one sicker than you shows up while you’re being evaluated. Been waiting for hours to see a doctor? It’s a great sign you’re not in mortal danger.
- Any time an emergency doctor encounters an unresponsive patient, the first thing he or she does is perform a rapid scan of the “ABCs”: assess the patient’s airway (and open it up if it’s closed), assess the patient’s breathing (and give rescue breaths if there’s no breathing), and check the patient’s blood circulation (and give chest compressions if there’s no heartbeat).
- Snake bites, contrary to popular belief, should not be treated with the “cut and suck” method. By cutting up the wound and trying to suck out the poison, you’ll only increase tissue damage and further contaminate the wound. A better form of treatment is rinsing the snake bite under running water for several minutes.
Displaying masterful storytelling prowess, detailed medical knowledge, and personal experiences as a practicing physician, Dr. Benaroch makes these lectures a unique way for you to experience life in an emergency department—without having to visit one yourself. You’ll feel like you’ve donned the white coat and stepped into the well-worn shoes of an emergency doctor at the top of his or her game.
Whether he’s discussing how doctors treat patients with highly infectious diseases, how they determine when patients are suffering from a hidden trauma (like an eating disorder), or how they inform family members in the event of a patient’s death, Dr. Benaroch treats these and many other real-world scenarios with candor. Medical School for Everyone: Emergency Medicine reveals the everyday adventure, mystery, and fascination of emergency medicine, showing you why it’s one of the most exciting and rewarding branches of medicine to work in.