Medical students typically spend their first two years in the classroom and receive most of their clinical experience in their third and fourth years. But at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, those who want hands-on experience early in med school can join the Emergency Medicine Interest Group (EMIG).
Run by medical students and residents, EMIG is a year-long program for first- and second-year students. Members attend lectures on important emergency medicine topics and a series of popular hands-on training sessions in suturing, airway management, splinting and ultrasound. EMIG also offers opportunities for members to shadow residents working in the emergency departments at various UCLA hospitals.
Tajah Tubbs, a second-year student, has been a member since she started medical school. "I joined EMIG because I was interested in the field of emergency medicine," Tajah says. "I wanted to learn more about it through shadowing and events that highlighted different perspectives about the residency."
Here, Tubbs explains how the leadership and clinical skills she's gaining as part of EMIG will help better prepare her for a career in medicine.What students gain
EMIG provides a broad overview of emergency medicine as a specialty.
"The year starts with an introduction to the field of emergency medicine from both an attending and resident perspective," says Tubbs. "It continues with workshops on wilderness medicine, suturing and being a first responder, and rounds out with lunch talks about international emergency medicine, movie screenings and a fourth-year student perspective on going through The Match," she adds, referring to Match Day, a day on the UCLA calendar when medical students learn about whether they've been accepted residency.
As a member of the Emergency Medicine Interest Group, Tubbs has attended lunch talks, a "Code Black" movie screening, a wilderness workshop where residents led small groups through different emergency medical scenarios and a suture workshop led by attending physicians and residents.
Her favorite experiences so far have been the regular shadowing opportunities. "I came into medical school not knowing much about emergency medicine," she says. "But I quickly fell in love with it through my interactions with patients and medical staff in various emergency departments."Who should join?
Tubbs says any medical students can get involved in EMIG, even those who aren't particularly interested in emergency medicine as a specialty.
"If you have ever considered emergency medicine, if you haven't considered it at all, if you know nothing about it but want to learn more, this group is for you," she says. "EMIG teaches essential skills that are important for any specialty and provides clinical experience you normally wouldn't learn until rotations or third- and fourth-year courses."
Tubbs hasn't settled on emergency medicine as a career choice. She's also considering pediatrics and plans to keep an open mind going into her third-year rotations. But she's gained skills that will serve her well in whatever path she pursues.
"I believe that being a part of EMIG will not only help me with the leadership skills I would need in any specialty but it has also taught me hands-on skills that I will use in any field of medicine."
Taylor Mallory Holland