Do You Know What You Don’t Know?

by | Jun 14, 2021

The line “You don’t know what you don’t know” has circulated in the emergency medicine community for years. If you’re a physician, PA, or NP and you’re familiar with emergency medicine, you’ve likely heard it before. You might be tired of it at this point, or you may even find it offensive. Some clinicians who already have experience working in emergency departments might be thinking, “I’ve already been practicing in EDs, why am I being questioned about my knowledge of emergency medicine?”

However, the truth is that while board-certified emergency physicians go through rigorous and meticulous training, the same cannot always be said for non-EM trained physicians, PAs, and NPs before being onboarded into emergency departments, which means there can be knowledge gaps in the absence of formal training.

The video included above provides an example of a PA with experience in three different emergency departments of varying volumes and their diagnosis of a 22-year old male presenting with chief complaint of seizure. Take a look at the video to see the complexities of what seemed like a simple case.

Nobody wants to have someone die or suffer morbidity as a result of their actions as a provider in an emergency department. Sometimes this circumstance can’t be helped despite a provider’s best efforts, but comprehensive supplemental training can help physicians, PAs, and NPs be equipped in advance for the widest range of situations possible. The ACEP rural task force has put together a summary of recommendations in an effort to improve safety in the practice of emergency medicine by non-EM trained physicians, PAs, and NPs, focusing particularly on those working solo at Frontier Critical Access hospitals.

The Rural Task Force Summary outlines a 5-part plan to achieve this goal of improved EM patient care and support for non-EM trained physicians, PAs, and NPs. The steps are foundational training, airway training, simulation training, work in a high-volume ED with EM trained/boarded physicians, and telemedicine support/oversight. This plan was produced after careful and thorough research of the present circumstances of EDs across the country with particular focus on low-volume EDs in rural areas. Each of the 5 pieces are designed to fit together and provide the best supplemental training and support for providers working in emergency departments. 

The first step in that summary of recommendations is robust foundational training, and EMCT has been vetted and found to be the best online foundational training program for EM. This training is not meant to replace board-certification or a formal EM residency. The goal of the program is to provide supplemental instruction which covers the breadth of knowledge that Physicians, PAs, and NPs need in order to be prepared for what they’ll encounter in their work in emergency departments across America. 

The EMCT program is also ideal for any provider who wants to brush up on their knowledge or have access to ongoing training. Emergency Medicine Core Training includes twice monthly live coaching, covering different topics in each session so there’s always new and relevant educational material. More education can only help improve the quality of care for EM patients, as well as increasing the confidence of physicians, PAs, and NPs either currently practicing or onboarding to work in emergency medicine.