Emergency Medicine was defined by the International Federation for Emergency Medicine in 1991 as "A field of practice based on the knowledge and skills required for the prevention, diagnosis and management of acute and urgent aspects of illness and injury affecting patients of all age groups with a full spectrum of undifferentiated physical and behavioural disorders. It further encompasses an understanding of the development of pre-hospital and in-hospital emergency medical systems and the skills necessary for this development."

What does emergency medicine specialty training involve?

During the FACEM (Fellowship of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine) Training Program, medical practitioners gain clinical experience in a wide variety of emergency departments (EDs) and hospital settings.

These include major referral and urban district sites, regional and rural EDs, critical care settings, including intensive care units and anaesthetics, and a broad variety of other clinical practice settings. 

The practice of EM extends well beyond EDs. As acute generalist (broad spectrum) clinicians and decision-makers, FACEMs have diverse roles in hospitals and the broader health system. 

FACEMs work across a variety of health care settings in metropolitan, regional, rural and remote Australia, Aotearoa New Zealand, and internationally.

Where do emergency medicine specialists work?

  • Hospital EDs including mainly mixed, but also adult and paediatric departments; general and specialist departments (public and private);
  • ED observation units, for example short stay units (SSUs), emergency medicine units (EMUs) or clinical decision units (CDUs);
  • Hospital acute admission units, for example medical admission units (MAUs), acute medical units (AMUs) or medical assessment and planning units (MAPUs); 
  • Specialist inpatient services including but not limited to toxicology, intensive care, high dependency units and hyperbaric medicine (additional qualifications to FACEM may be required for these roles);
  • Urgent care centres, sports injury clinics and minor injury units (public and private);
  • Rural multi-purpose centres (co-located emergency, inpatient, aged care services); 
  • Hospital-in-the-home (HITH) services and clinical outreach teams; 
  • Patient flow and transfer coordination units; 
  • Pre-hospital and medical retrieval services (aeromedical and road); 
  • Telemedicine and virtual care services (public and private); 
  • Medical administration and health service planning; 
  • Academia including medical education and research; 
  • Major incident and disaster planning medicine; 
  • Defence force medicine (permanent and reserves) 
  • Medical support for major entertainment and sporting events; 
  • Public health and health promotion/communications; 
  • Forensic medicine including police medical officers; 
  • Quality and safety roles; 
  • Clinical product design; 
  • Government and policy roles; and  
  • Clinical leadership.  

Hear more from FACEMs and FACEM trainees about why they chose EM, and what they find most rewarding about their roles. 

  • Dr Tatum Bond
  • Prof George Braitberg
  • Prof Diana Egerton-Warburton
  • Prof Daniel Fatovich
  • Dr Lai Heng Foong
  • Dr Laksmi Govindasamy
  • Dr Inia Tomash
  • Dr Kavita Varshney

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