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The Emergency Medicine core content represents the central body of knowledge for the study and practice of emergency medicine. It includes 23 major categories of content divided into appropriate areas of presenting complaints, clinical symptoms, disease states and etiologies.  It represents a consensus of opinion of the American Board of Emergency Medicine, the American College of Emergency Physicians and the Society of Academic Emergency Medicine. Although it cannot stand alone, the core content has been used as the framework for the curriculum.

Extensive goals and objectives have been developed for the Emergency Medicine Residency Program based on the core content. These objectives are met through conferences, procedure laboratories, clinical teaching, journal clubs and other academic activities.

The curriculum is reviewed biannually at resident and staff physician meetings. The core curriculum committee, composed of staff physicians and residents, meets frequently throughout the year and is responsible for making revisions as necessary.

The curriculum is outlined below, by year.

The First Year

PGY-1 residents in Emergency Medicine gain a strong foundation in the broad field of medicine, predominantly through clinical inpatient experience. The first year focuses on aspects of general internal medicine, the medical intensive care unit, emergency medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, anesthesiology, plastic surgery and hand surgery.

Primary skills to be developed include taking medical histories, performing physical examinations, using ancillary laboratory and radiologic studies and developing individual treatment plans.

20 weeks Emergency Department
4 weeks Pediatrics
4 weeks Obstetrics and Gynecology
4 weeks Anesthesia

2 weeks

2 weeks

Plastic Surgery

Hand Surgery

4 weeks Trauma floors
4 weeks Internal Medicine
4 weeks Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU)
4 weeks Selective (includes ophthalmology, dermatology, oral maxillofacial surgery, and ENT clinic)
3 weeks Vacation


The Second Year

In PGY-2, Emergency Medicine residents are expected to refine their skills in individual patient evaluation and management with particular emphasis on life threatening disorders. In the Emergency Department, residents develop major manipulative /procedural skills necessary to aid patients with a variety of disorders. Much of the second-year training involves critical care rotations, including the Coronary Care Unit, the Trauma Service, and the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh). In addition, the Orthopaedic Surgery service allows residents to develop a perspective on their role as the primary care physician as well as a consultant to other physicians caring for individual patients.

Responsibilities as a PGY-2 include assistance with instruction of medical students and junior house staff as well as serving as medical command physicians for ground ambulance units.

20 weeks Emergency Department
4 weeks Pediatric ICU (Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh)
8 weeks Cardiac Care Unit
4 weeks Trauma ICU
4 weeks Neurology/Stroke Team
4 weeks Community ED (West Penn Hospital)
4 weeks Orthopaedics/Sports Medicine
4 weeks Pediatric EM (Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh)
3 weeks Vacation


The Third Year

In PGY-3, Emergency Medicine residents fine-tune both patient care and administrative skills. As team leaders, they are responsible for managing patients with acute and life-threatening disorders. Rotations include one month as the Emergency Department trauma resuscitator. The bulk of the PGY-3 year is spent in the Emergency Department providing patient care, as well as leadership and teaching of other residents and students. PGY-3 residents gain valuable prehospital critical care experience on the LifeFlight rotation and serve as medical command physicians for LifeFlight. Continued refinement of primary care as well as consultative skills is stressed.

32 weeks Emergency Department (ED)*
4 weeks ED Trauma Resuscitation
4 weeks LifeFlight
4 weeks Community Hospital ED*
8 weeks Electives**
3 weeks Vacation

* While on rotation in the Emergency Department, residents work an average of 50 hours each week in active patient care. The shifts generally include day, evening and night hours. Shifts are 8-12 hours.

** Many electives are offered to PGY-3 residents to help diversify the training experience. Electives are available in the following areas:

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Ophthalmology
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
  • Anesthesia
  • Orthopaedics
  • Plastic Surgery
  • Toxicology
  • Radiology
  • Pediatric Emergency Medicine
  • Ultrasound
  • International Emergency Medicine
  • Pulmonary (Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy)
  • Cardiology/Electrophysiology
  • Dermatology
  • Community Emergency Medicine
  • Administration
  • EMS

Other electives may also be arranged according to resident interest.


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