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Qualities Needed to Become an ER Doctor

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When a person has a sudden medical problem, including life-threatening aliments such as heart attacks or mortal wounds, he typically winds up at the emergency room. ERs are found at most hospitals around the world, and ER doctors staff them. According to an article on CNN Money, experienced ER doctors made an average of $250,000 in 2009. If you are considering this type of profession, you must have many specific qualities and skill sets.

Diagnostic Skills

ER doctors must be able to quickly diagnose and treat all types of patients. This is a valued skill set, because it means that ER doctors are some of the most talented and well-rounded doctors available. Unlike specialty doctors, such as cardiologists or oncologists, ER doctors have to be able to switch gears and be open to all types of health conditions and problems. They treat patients of all ages and all health conditions. Many ER patients arrive at the medical facilities unconscious, so ER doctors must be able to identify the main issue, as well as quickly understand other ongoing health problems, without the benefit of a patient history. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, ER doctors are also responsible for identifying possible domestic violence or child abuse cases.

Organizational Skills

ERs get their name from the word “emergency,” which means unplanned. ER doctors have different workloads each day, and they cannot plan their days like people in other professions. They must be able to manage a large number of patients at the same time. ER doctors must be able to quickly assess the severity of patient conditions and then treat them according to priority level. For example, a heart attack victim will typically be treated before a person with a sprained ankle. In addition, in most ERs, time is not a luxury. This means that ER doctors must quickly diagnose and treat a wide number of patients without having the benefit of time-consuming tests and evaluations.

Interpersonal Skills

Most ER doctors work in high stress situations. They are under pressure to save lives and often have to break bad news to loved ones. Their patients are usually scared and in some of the most traumatic situations of their lives. This means that ER doctors have to remain calm under stress, as well as have a warm personality when talking with patients and their families. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this task can be even more difficult after working long, irregular hours without a break.


Denise Brandenberg has more than 15 years professional experience as a marketing copywriter, with a focus in public relations. She also worked as a recruiter for many years and is a certified resume writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English.