Emergency Medicine in Brazil is still a small baby. In some states, it’s crawling, like here in Brasília. But even so, it already made my eyes shine. In Brasilia, we are moving to graduate the first group of emergency physicians. Several people were struggling for this to happen. And today, I’m going to talk a little about them, and why I decided to do emergency medicine, even though I’m still in the fourth year.
It is quite common for many medical students to have doubts about which residency to choose as if this decision were unique and definitive, and that weighs heavily. During the fellowship of an Airway course, I overheard one student from the last year say, “I have not yet found the specialty that makes my eyes shine.” And that made me think about how lucky I am because I’ve already found it. My intention here is not to make you choose Emergency Medicine as your only option, but to show you that the most serious patient needs the best doctor and the best treatment. It is to show you that the emergency department has to be ready for all the patients who can open through emergency doors, from the child to the elderly. And if you’re like me, who did not settle for a specialty that focused on only one part of the human body, you’re going to fall in love with the Emergency Medicine as well.
I arrived at the emergency department of a hospital in the capital as a confused student, who still had no idea of my rotation. And whoever accepted me was the most fantastic doctor I could meet, no less than the boss of the state’s Emergency Medicine residency program. Well, I did not know that great detail of the time. But watching her play that “red room” was like watching an orchestra. Each bed is an instrument, which she commanded with mastery. I had never seen anything like it. She knew what she was doing. She was young and a strong woman. That by the standards of Brazil, borders the absurd, but there she was. In a public hospital, she was treating each patient as royalty. She maintained a firm posture, taught the students, and knew how to lead the team. It was beautiful to see. I knew that’s where I wanted to be; I knew I wanted to be at least 20% of the doctor she was. Despite the initial fear I had of her, little by little, she became my mentor. It was a big milestone in my life. She showed me what Emergency Medicine is and what is still going to be here in Brazil. And so, I was diving more and more into Emergency Medicine.
She taught me that the emergency department is not the messy garage entrance of a hospital. At least it should not. Here in Brazil, we face the overcrowding of emergency department and lack of resources. So an emergency physician here needs to be more than good, needs to be creative and resilient. However, generally in the country, the doctor who takes care of these patients is the most inexperienced. It’s usually the one who just got out of college and needs to work to earn money. And this needs to be changed. Some doctors saw this inconvenient situation and fought for it to be changed. But every change hurts, and it takes a lot of strength. Gradually, the movement grew. After several battles, Emergency Medicine managed to have an association of its own that finally took on the role of creating it. That’s why students with interest in the area are so valued, after all, it’s us who will keep this legacy.
I also learned from her the importance of being humble and training whenever possible. After all, the best professionals in each area spend more hours training than acting. Perfecting your technique, strengthening your mindset, is a must in medicine. Train, study, and be humble to recognize that you don’t know everything. Being an emergency physician is having to deal with every situation. You don’t have to deliver a diagnosis now, but the patient has to be stabilized until someone else can take over. And to reach this level of saying to death “not today,” you need to study and train!
If you are a Brazilian medical student and interested in the area, here are some tips. Be part of an EMIG (Emergency Medicine Interest Group). Thus, you will have contact with residents and preceptors of the area. Engage in the different opportunities within the Emergency Medicine field that arise, such as events and courses. Look for the associations in Brazil, and also outside the country. Accompany shifts with an emergency physician, so you can feel a little of the specialty and understand what your day to day life will be like. After graduating from college, you must take the test for the Emergency Medicine Residency. The residency lasts three years and already exists in several Brazilian states. After three years of residency, you must take the specialty exam (title test), to become an Emergency Medicine specialist. And if you can find your Emergency Medicine mentor in college, know that your path will become clearer, know that you will enter a world where you can hardly get out, because that’s the Emergency Medicine. A world far beyond only the doors of the emergency department.
Dedicated to Jule Santos.