Emergency medicine is the medical specialty dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of unforeseen illness or injury. The practice of emergency medicine includes the initial evaluation, diagnosis, treatment, coordination of care among multiple providers, and disposition of any patient requiring expeditious medical, surgical or psychiatric care. Generally, these physicians practice in the emergency department and will be the first physicians seeing patients who come to the emergency department for care.

Hospital medicine is the medical specialty dedicated to general, comprehensive medical care of hospitalized patients. Generally, these physicians practice within the hospital (generally not the emergency department, unless they are seeing a patient who is being admitted to the hospital) and take care of patients who require admission to the hospital until discharged from the hospital.  They may call on specialists such as cardiologists or neurologists to assist them in the care of hospitalized patients.