Evaluating Emergency Medicine Jobs: 16 Questions to Ask

Evaluating practice opportunities can be challenging, especially for residents just entering the emergency medicine job market. With many diverse practice settings across the country, there are many options to consider, and it can be difficult to know which opportunity is right for you. We spoke with several of our emergency physicians – from newly board-certified ER physicians to medical directors – and asked them what matters most when searching for an emergency medicine job.

Our panel of physicians outlined the questions below to guide you on your job search. Some of these questions can be answered with a simple Google search as you’re researching job opportunities. Others will need to be answered by the Recruiter or Medical Director. 

What is the Patient Mix?

It is important to understand the types of patients treated in the ED and the acuity of their conditions. While the nature of emergency medicine leads to a diverse mix of conditions, ensure that you are practicing in an environment that lends itself to your skill set and passions. Do you enjoy treating pediatric patients? Is your passion in trauma? Learning more about the patient mix will help you to understand what types of interactions you can expect on a day-to-day basis.

1. Is the hospital a trauma center? If so, which level?

2. What is the ratio of trauma v. medical cases?

3. What is the admission rate?

4. What is the ratio of patients – pediatric v. adult?

5. What is the number of unattached patients?

What Documentation System is Used?

As you know, correct and complete documentation is critical to physician reimbursement. As increasing numbers of hospitals move away from traditional “pen and paper” charting toward EHR systems, physicians must adapt their practices. As you evaluate a practice opportunity, ask questions regarding the documentation system and any training or support their physician staff receives.

6. What type of charting system/EHR is used?

7. Does on-boarding include EHR training?

8. Are scribes available to support physician documentation?

What Type of Clinical Support is Provided for the Emergency Team?

Providing outstanding emergency care requires an entire team of dedicated personnel. Both clinical and administrative staff members play an important role in the patient experience. As you consider practicing at a facility, ask questions regarding the support team, both within the emergency department and across the hospital.

9. What type of clinical support is provided for the emergency team?

10. Does the team include advanced practice clinicians (PAs/NPs)?

11. What is the average turnaround time for lab results?

12. How long do radiology reads take? Are radiologists on-site or are reads performed through teleradiology?

13. Is there physician backup call?

14. Who is responsible for running codes?

15. What sub-specialties are available within the hospital?

16. Who is responsible for writing admission orders?

These questions can provide great insight within the emergency medicine job search, giving you an idea of how the department operates and whether the opportunity is the right fit for you. Also check out our post on physician compensation models to consider the practice structure you prefer.