Emergency medical services education in emergency medicine residency programs: a national survey

Robert Katzer, Jose G Cabanas, Christian Martin-Gill
Academic Emergency Medicine: Official Journal of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine 2012, 19 (2): 174-9

OBJECTIVES:   Emergency medical services (EMS) was recently approved as a subspecialty by the American Board of Medical Specialties, highlighting the core content of knowledge that encompasses prehospital emergency patient care. This study aimed to describe the current state of EMS education at emergency medicine (EM) residency programs in the United States.

METHODS:   The authors distributed an online survey containing multiple-choice and free-response questions pertaining to resident EMS education to the directors of EM residency programs in the United States between July 21 and September 10, 2010.

RESULTS:   Of 154 programs, 117 (75%) responded to the survey, and 108 (70%) completed the survey by answering all required questions. Of completed surveys, 82 programs (76%) reported the cumulative time devoted to EMS didactic education during the course of residency training, a median of 20 hours (range = 3 to 300 hours; interquartile range [IQR] = 12 to 36 hours). There is a designated EMS rotation in 89% of programs, with a median duration of 3 weeks (range = 1 to 9 weeks; IQR = 2 to 4 weeks). Most programs involve residents on EMS rotations strictly as in-field observers (63%), some as in-field providers (20%), and the rest with some combination of the two roles. Ground ride-along is required in 94% of programs, while air ride-along is mandatory in 4% and optional in 81% of programs. Direct medical oversight (DMO) certification is required in 41% of residency programs, but not available in 26% of program jurisdictions. Residents in 92% of programs provide DMO. In those programs, most residents (77%) provide DMO primarily while working in the emergency department (ED), 13% during dedicated EMS or medical oversight shifts, and 4% during a combination of these shifts. Disaster-preparedness was most frequently listed as the component programs would like to add to their EMS curricula.

CONCLUSIONS:   There is a wide range in the didactic, online, and in-field EMS educational experiences provided as part of EM training. Most residents participate in ground ride-along activities, provide DMO, and have a dedicated EMS rotation. Disaster-preparedness is the most common desired addition to existing EMS rotations.

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