Trauma doctors are also known as emergency physicians. Like other doctors, they examine patients, diagnose medical problems, determine how to treat conditions, prescribe medicine, perform diagnostic tests and try to save lives. They have graduated from medical school and then received additional training to diagnose and treat illnesses in emergency situations. Becoming a trauma doctor is one of the many specialty fields open to physicians and takes many years to accomplish.
Becoming a trauma doctor requires a college education, but not a college degree. Students will spend several years in college taking courses in math, physics, biology and other scientific fields. They will then have to pass the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), apply to medical school, and submit letters of recommendation before they will be admitted to a college of medicine.
Medical school is four years of intensive study and training. The first two years are classroom and laboratory based where students study microbiology, pathology, biochemistry, pharmacology, medical ethics and more. The last two years of medical school is when students work with doctors in hospitals. Students learn to diagnose and treat patients by working in pediatrics, surgery, internal medicine and other medical specialty fields.
After graduating from medical school, doctors must pass the U.S. Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) before practicing medicine. Residency follows this, and can last from two to six years. This is the time new doctors get advanced, paid, on-the-job training in a particular medical field of their choice. After residency, doctors must pass another exam to be board certified by either the American Board of Medical Specialists (ABMS) or the American Osteopathic Association (AOA).
Trauma doctors diagnose and treat patients like other physicians, but usually do so in cases of medical emergency and typically see patients only once. They must rely on their medical education and experience to assess a medical crisis, decide on a course of action, and execute treatment to solve problems and save lives. Trauma doctors must also be available to treat people outside the emergency or trauma department if an emergency arises where a life or limb is in jeopardy.
Trauma doctors typically work in hospital or clinic emergency rooms, or in trauma centers. They work with other physicians, nurses and health care workers to provide medical care in emergency situations. Because patients usually need immediate care, the trauma physician has little or no time to get a detailed medical history. Sometimes the physician will get no information at all about the medical emergency because the patient is unable to communicate.
Trauma doctors' salaries will vary depending on their experience and job location, but according to payscale.com, the average yearly salary for emergency physicians is about $175,000.
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