Global Emergency Medicine - Amye Farag, MD
“Emergencies occur everywhere and every day they consume resources regardless of whether there are systems in place capable of good outcomes.”
-Teri Reynolds, MD, PhD at Consortium of Universities for Global Health’s Global Emergency Care Satellite Session, March 2019
Part of the beauty of our specialty lies in our commitment to serve any patient, at any time, regardless of their emergency or their ability to pay. EMS systems are carefully designed to provide the quickest access to the closest hospital capable of handling the acuity of any condition they encounter. Disaster planning occurs on the hospital, city, state, and national levels in our country and there are processes in place to activate these at a moment’s notice. While not the focus of our training, it is important to have a good fundamental understanding of how prehospital care and disaster relief occurs. We interact with EMS on a daily basis and are at the frontlines of patient care when disasters occur. For many countries, access to timely acute care is limited or unavailable due to a number of reasons. Emergency medicine is one of the newer specialties in the house of medicine, and it should come as no surprise that the acceptance and development of the specialty in other countries has also progressed slowly. This startling reminder helped further my interest in pursuing a career in international emergency medicine.
Recent statistics demonstrate that the number one cause of death worldwide between the ages of 5 and 29 is trauma. In countries with adequate systems in place, the morbidity and mortality of traumatic injuries is significantly decreased and the preventable death rate is considerably lower. For this reason, the World Health Organization launched the Global Emergency and Trauma Care Initiative to provide low- and middle-income countries low cost solutions and checklists to improve patient care. They also developed and recently published “Basic Emergency Care”, an open access toolkit and training course for healthcare workers in resource limited settings. This is just one of many ways International Emergency Medicine is working to improve the quality of emergency care worldwide.
There are a number of other ways to get involved in global emergency care, such as working with established residency programs in other countries and teaching trainees new skills. You can partner with NGOs such as Doctors Without Borders or governmental organizations such as WHO, or work with an academic institution that has partnerships with residency programs abroad.
While in residency, it may be difficult to travel or get involved in many of these activities abroad. If your program doesn’t have an active global health track or faculty working on any international projects, consider reaching out to a nearby institution that does. They are often willing to incorporate residents from other programs into their global health courses! I was fortunate to be able to connect with a program in Detroit and have had invaluable learning opportunities from connecting with them.
It is an exciting time in the field of International Emergency Medicine, and I cannot wait to continue my journey as I pursue a fellowship, hopefully beginning in the summer of 2020!
Get involved! Check out these resources to learn more about International Emergency Medicine.