ABPS Diplomate Leonard Lamsen, MD, On What It’s Like to Be an Emergency Medicine Physician

Leonard Lamsen, MDWhen I was in medical school, I had a difficult time deciding on a specialty. I knew I liked variety, and both family and emergency medicine treated patients regardless of age and gender. After speaking to my mentors in both specialties and meeting emergency physicians who had completed family medicine training, I decided to pursue family medicine.

During my family medicine residency, I discovered that I had an affinity for treating more emergent medical problems, so I entered the emergency medicine fellowship program at the University of Tennessee Medical Center. I graduated from the program in 2011 and continue to practice at UTMC to this day.

Without a doubt, emergency medicine has been a good fit for me. As someone with a growth mindset, I have enjoyed a wealth of opportunities to acquire new information and skills in a field that continues to innovate. For instance, I’ve completed additional training in point-of-care ultrasound and medical simulation. Not only has this improved my practice, but I’ve also been able to integrate it into the EM fellowship at UTMC. As an EM physician, I also have the foundation to stabilize and manage virtually any condition, treating men, women, and children, and the whole spectrum of a disease or illness.

What I find especially interesting about practicing EM is the emotions it evokes. I don’t consider myself an emotional person, but in any given shift, I can experience so many emotions, from excitement when I’m working with my team on resuscitating a patient to hope when our efforts are successful. And, at the end of the day, no matter how it went, I can experience satisfaction from knowing I’ve done my best to improve the lives of my patients.

As rewarding as it is, working in the emergency room is also demanding. During busy hours, patient flow can be a challenge, with patients we’re actively seeing, patients waiting for rooms, and patients in the lobby waiting to be seen but who have no rooms available. The lifestyle can also be tough. Because the emergency department is open every day, around the clock, I must work some weekends and holidays, but with thoughtful advance planning, I can still “be there” for my family at most events. Fortunately, I have a wonderful family who supports me as well as colleagues and leaders who make job flexibility possible.

My most memorable experience in the ER happened when I was working a busy night shift. I’d set my phone on silent as I usually do, so, throughout the night, I did not receive the phone calls from my pregnant wife. Finally, she texted me, telling me that she had arrived and was waiting in the car. Apparently, her contractions were intensifying and she was afraid that she wouldn’t be able to drive herself to the hospital. We had our daughter that day.

If I could give some advice to an EM physician in training, I’d say, “Every patient can be a learning opportunity, and not only your patients, but also those of your colleagues. While in training, learn and become proficient in all the skills you can because acquiring new skills will become harder once you get out.”

For physicians in training, I think soft skills are less tangible and harder to quantify, but they can make a world of difference once they begin working in the emergency department. Communication, leadership, teamwork, flexibility, and time management are soft skills that all EM physicians should develop. We do not work in a silo. We encounter people from all walks of life—family members, pre-hospital personnel, hospital administration, students, residents, other physicians, nurses, and other healthcare staff. It is important that we learn to communicate effectively with such a diverse group of people. We need to exercise leadership and teamwork to constantly engage our staff and consultants to provide the best care for our patients. And, since emergency departments can often be overcrowded, we need to have flexibility and time management skills to treat our critically ill patients while ensuring less emergent medical problems are also managed efficiently.

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House of Delegates & Annual Scientific Meeting
Innovation & Overcoming Challenges
June 10-15, 2022
Patient Care Is Our Priority

Medical organizations throughout North America understand that our rigorous certification standards prove that ABPS Diplomates are capable of delivering the best patient care possible.

I feel truly blessed and grateful to be an internal medicine board-certified diplomate with the American Board of Physician Specialties. Their ongoing, steadfast commitment to physician board(s) enhancement, forward focused vision, and tenacity is second to none. ABPS has become a recognized choice in Physician Board Certification.

Adam Rench, MD
Internal Medicine
To be the best, you must measure yourself against the best. Achieving Board Certification in Emergency Medicine by the ABPS gave me the opportunity to demonstrate mastery of the art of EM in an objective way. The high bar that ABPS sets for candidates to be allowed to take both the written and oral exam is a testament to ABPS's rigorous vetting of one's ability to practice Emergency Medicine at a high level. By maintaining these credentials, I've been able to instill confidence in my abilities at the department/employer level and ultimately with the patients that choose to seek emergency care at the facilities at which I practice.

Royce Mathew Joseph, MD
Emergency Medicine
The American Board of Physician Specialties has supported the entire field of Integrative Medicine in sponsoring our board. It has been so validating of the importance of prevention-oriented and holistic approaches to care while emphasizing the scientific basis of this specialty to have it recognized by ABPS. I am proud to have been one of the first groups to be board certified by ABPS in Integrative Medicine, leading the way for others committed to training in this specialty.

Myles Spar, MD
Integrative Medicine