2017-18 AAEM/RSA Medical Student Scholarship Winners Share Why They Are Choosing EM

Author: Michael Lauria
Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine

RSA is proud to share the following essay from one of the 2017-2018 Medical Student Scholarship winners, Michael Lauria. We felt this essay best exemplified why he is choosing EM as a specialty. Congratulations, Michael!

Exhaustion had never felt so good. Many of the other details surrounding that rescue operation in the middle of the Iraqi desert were a blur, a shadowy haze of blood, twisted metal, and wind-driven dust. Just hours before, our combat search and rescue team had managed to triage, treat, and transport seven critically injured soldiers involved in a catastrophic helicopter crash. As the team sat back, relaxed, and watched the sun rise over the desert, I quietly reflected on the night’s events. I realized that I truly loved being there to provide emergency medical care to those soldiers when they needed it most. Now, eight years later, I recognize that I want to dedicate my career as a physician to that same purpose.

Working as a civilian critical care and flight paramedic, my clinical practice was largely based on protocols, guidelines, and algorithms. Working closely with the emergency medicine residents and faculty at Dartmouth’s air medical program taught me that you often have to combine knowledge and experience to generate novel solutions to unique problems. The real world doesn’t exist in black and white. It is derived from a million shades of grey. Operating in these shades of grey is an appealing challenge in emergency medicine. The knowledge and skill required to manage a patient’s care exists between the lines of any text and beyond the pages of any protocol or research article.

I became more cognizant of the less dramatic, but equally important, aspects of life in the emergency department during my recent subinternship in the emergency department. I realized that interventions such as reassurance and compassionate communication can be very powerful. Demonstrating empathy and expressing concern are critical to quickly getting to bottom of a problem. Clearly and simply explaining the extent to which true medical emergencies have been ruled out can provide the comfort that worried patients seek.

Meeting the needs of patients in the emergency department is a challenge that must be met by hard-working, compassionate, intelligent, and innovative emergency physicians. I want to be one of those physicians. From the deserts of Iraq, to the mountains of New Hampshire, and in the emergency department, I have learned a great deal and developed a passion for the many aspects of emergency care. Now, I look forward to starting an emergency medicine residency and cultivating the knowledge and skills necessary to become an outstanding emergency physician.