Reflections on Running an Emergency Medicine Interest Group

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Emergency medicine is the best specialty. This obviously biased conclusion came to me while working as a scribe in an emergency department, and it became the driving factor for my decision to apply to medical school. Naturally, I wanted to become an Emergency Medicine Interest Group (EMIG) officer after matriculating for one simple reason: to infect everyone around me with my overt enthusiasm for this amazing field!

The kaleidoscope of niches within the broad field of emergency medicine means there is no wrong way to be involved as an officer, short of simply not being involved at all. Taking advantage of your personal interests and strengths will help the group be more successful overall. In my case, I brought an endless supply of enthusiasm and a desire to organize interactive events.

The most challenging aspect of being an officer was creating events that were enticing enough to lure medical students away from their study rooms. It was important to accept early-on that providing an excellent experience was more important than worrying about the total number of participants. To that end, it was also equally vital to lay a groundwork that would make future events possible. For example, my group took the time to develop a strong relationship with our program’s ultrasound faculty so they would feel comfortable lending us machines for practice.

I imagine my EMIG’s perpetual lack of funds was not unique, nor were our difficulties with fundraising – either because of institutional rules or because no one really wants to buy a basic-looking T-shirt or subpar homemade cupcake. As a result, we spent a great deal of time thinking of ways to cut costs. An easy and particularly successful one was simply to have students bring bananas to suture clinics; although they are not an ideal medium, it was good enough to practice basics and way cheaper than pig feet or cow tongues. However, as the saying goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention” and our lack of cash was the impetus for creating the event that brings me the most pride: the “Airway Management and Suturing Skills Cadaver Clinic.” All it took was receiving permission to piggy-back on the EM residents’ cadaver clinic and securing a few faculty and resident volunteers. As a result, we now have a widely popular event every year that costs practically nothing to host.

As a fourth-year looking back, I feel the most rewarding aspect of being an officer was the opportunity to mentor our junior members by providing guidance on their projects and seeing how they expand the EMIG each year. Especially as the interest in emergency medicine increases in popularity, I find it fascinating to see how dramatic the EMIG has changed compared to my first year of medical school. At this point, I have had the opportunity to talk with EMIG leaders from all over the country and can say with confidence there is no one way to run an EMIG.

While every institution, EMIG, and individual will have different opportunities and ideas, I believe the following pearls are fairly universal:

  1. Medical students are busy. Don’t be offended or sad when attendance is low, just strive to make the best experience you can for those who are able to come.
  2. Procedural or interactive events will always be the most popular events. They will also be the most time-intensive events.
  3. Low funds or even low resources don’t have to define the limits of your group. Don’t be afraid to beg and borrow.
  4. An open mind to possibilities will often see creative solutions.
  5. A positive attitude will take you far!
Arielle King, MSIV

Arielle King, MSIV

EMRA MSC Southwest Coordinator, 2016-17 | University of Texas Southwestern | Dallas, TX
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