Undergraduate Emergency Medicine Clerkship: Ethiopian Experience

Emergency Medicine (EM) is about timely intervention and management of acute and life-threatening conditions (1). Every medical school graduate should learn and practice basic, yet important interventions for critically ill patients.

There are increased efforts in incorporating EM training into undergraduate curriculum worldwide (2, 3). However, the specialty of EM itself is yet not fully developed in low resource settings (4). South Africa is the first country starting to develop an EM system in Africa (5).

The modern medical education for both undergraduates and postgraduates level started in Ethiopia, at Addis Ababa University, in 1964. However, EM training as a specialty begun in the year 2010 (See infographic below). It was initially fragmented into different departments.

EM was also a 7-week separate elective rotation for undergraduates in the revised curriculum of 2008. It was successfully launched as training in 2013 with 300 4th year medical students (75 students in 4 groups). Students rotate in Adult EM (3 weeks), Pediatric EM (2 weeks) and Anesthesiology (2 weeks). Department of Emergency Medicine is the primary department controlling and managing these rotation areas in the clerkship. Our teaching program is primarily covered by EM, Pediatric EM, and Anesthesiology faculty. It includes practical demonstrations and simulation learning through our EM residents.

Topics covered by EM clerkship include:

Adult EM rotation

  • Introduction to EM
  • Basic Life Support (BLS)
  • Advanced Cardiac Support(ACLS)
  • Advanced Trauma Life Support(ATLS)
  • Approach to chest pain
  • Basic ECG and common arrhythmias
  • Approach to respiratory emergencies
  • Electrolyte emergencies
  • Approach to acute confusional state and neurological emergencies
  • Endocrine emergencies
  • Hypertensive emergencies
  • Approach to the poisoned patient and common toxicological emergencies

Anesthesiology rotation

  • Basic airway management devices 
  • Oxygen therapy
  • General and regional anesthesia with class discussions and practical demonstrations

Pediatric EM rotation

  • Pediatric assessment triangle
  • Pediatric advanced life support (PALS)
  • Newborn resuscitation
  • Common pediatric emergencies

Teaching methods are classroom didactics, case discussions, low fidelity simulations for basic airway management and ATLS demonstrations as well as case-based role plays for scenarios like Acute Myocardial Infarction, and so on.

Thus, in delivering such an innovative form of undergraduate rotation, our department has been selected as the best teaching department for the past 4 years consecutively by graduating medical students.

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