5 Best Emergency Medicine (EM) Residency Programs (Key Info & Data)

Emergency Medicine (EM) is a fast-paced, challenging, and hugely rewarding medical specialty. At an average of 3-4 years in residency length, it’s also shorter than longer haul specialties like general surgery (5 years), otolaryngology (5 years), plastic surgery (6 years), and more.

Doctors choosing EM as a career can look forward to caring for acutely ill or injured patients in (what can be) a high-stakes and high-pressure environment. It’s also a specialty with a ton of residency positions (3000 plus).

Considered a medium-level competitive residency, you’ll need a Step 1 score of >240 to increase your match probability odds.

But with an average US base salary of $300,000 for qualified emergency medicine physicians, the effort may well be worth it.

The best emergency medicine (EM) residency programs offer those interested in the field the greatest training possible.

This article takes a look at the top programs in the country (as ranked by the US News Best Grad Schools Report 2022), taking a deep dive into what’s offered by each and what you can expect if you’re lucky enough to match.

We’ve also included key info on facts/stats for each program (where publicized) too.

Ready to get started? Let’s go.

Before you dive into our article on the best neurology residency programs, make sure you take a look at our Best Residency Programs page to get all the critical info on other specialties.

1. University of South California (Keck)

Length of Accredited Training:4
Positions By Year:N/A
PGY1 Annual Salary:$60,000 (est.)

The Emergency Medicine residency training program at LAC+USC is the longest-running EM residency program in the country. It has the largest alumni body of such programs internationally, with over 600 physicians.

This residency is a four-year program where residents rotate through many services and gradually receive more autonomy. Through a rich clinical and educational experience, junior residents grow into autonomous senior residents who can confidently handle any clinical scenario.

The intern year focuses on the approach to emergency medicine and critical care. Interns build a solid foundation in managing both medical and surgical emergencies. They spend equal amounts of time in the Emergency Department and on off-service rotations. These off-service rotations include time spent in the ICU setting, orthopedics evaluation area, and anesthesiology.

The PGY-2 year develops the residents’ procedural competence. They begin working in the Resuscitation area and the Jail Emergency Department.

The residents gain increasing responsibilities in the ED and throughout the hospital during their PGY-3 year. They supervise the flow of patients from triage to final disposition, make decisions regarding resource utilization, and teach junior residents, physician assistants, and students.

The PGY-4 year is designed to develop leadership capabilities. Residents have opportunities to train in areas of highest interest. By the end of the program, they’re ready to integrate all aspects of the specialty into a balanced professional career, practicing at the highest level of clinical Emergency Medicine.

To find out more about USC’s emergency medicine residency, check out the video below…

DETAILS


2. University of Colorado (Anschutz)

Length of Accredited Training:4
Positions By Year:N/A
PGY1 Annual Salary:$60,000 (est.)

The Denver Health Residency in Emergency Medicine is a four-year training program with a mix of county, academic, and community learning environments. It offers training in the emergency departments at Denver Health Medical Center, the University of Colorado Hospital, the Children’s Hospital of Colorado, and Saint Joseph Hospital.

The PGY-1 year develops the foundational knowledge and technical skills necessary for the rest of the residency. Core rotations in Medical Critical Care, Trauma Surgery, Orthopedics, Internal Medicine, and Adult and Pediatric Emergency Medicine provide interns with broad clinical experience.

PGY-2 residents begin integrating the technical skills and knowledge specific to emergency medicine through rotations in the emergency department. They also learn how to care for the sickest of patients during rotations in Surgical and Pediatric Intensive Care Units.

In the PGY-3 year, residents run the Trauma side of the ED at Denver Health. They also gain more experience in pediatric EM and critical care in the ICU. Other rotations include Toxicology, Advanced Ultrasound, and Emergency Medical Services.

Senior residents are expected to master clinical emergency medicine and develop strong leadership skills. The principal rotation in the PGY-4 year is the Senior Resident Rotation in the Denver Health ED. Residents balance patient flow while supervising junior residents. They direct resuscitation of all critically ill patients, run the observation unit, and provide EMS medical control for the Paramedic Division.

For more info on what to expect from CU’s emergency medicine residency, check out the video below…

DETAILS

  • Name: University of Colorado
  • Address: Denver Health Residency in Emergency Medicine, 777 Bannock Street, MC #0108, Denver, Colorado 80204
  • Program Director: Bonnie Kaplan
  • Contact: bonnie.kaplan@denverem.org​
  • Website: denverem.org

3. University of North Carolina – Charlotte Campus

Length of Accredited Training:3
Positions By Year:14
PGY1 Annual Salary:$55,108

The Emergency Medicine Residency program at Atrium Health’s Carolinas Medical Center teaches the practice and art of emergency medicine in a busy urban medical center. This is a 3-year program, and 14 residents are accepted each year.

Carolinas Medical Center (CMC) is the satellite campus of UNC School of Medicine in Charlotte. It consistently ranks among the nation’s top hospitals. And with a good blend of private and underserved patients, CMC provides its residents with a complex variety and volume of cases.

PGY-1 residents acquire fundamental skills and knowledge for the practice of emergency medicine. They spend most of the first year with other specialties such as orthopedics, OB/GYN, or cardiology. They also have early critical care exposure spending a month in the medical intensive care unit (MICU.)

Residents receive increased responsibilities in the emergency department during the PGY-2 year. They have opportunities to perform major procedures. And they acquire skills in the care of critically ill cardiac, medical, trauma, and poisoned patients. They can also start an elective research project early in the second year of training.

PGY-3 residents manage critically ill and injured patients. They provide online medical control for emergency medical services. And they also have teaching responsibilities in the ED.

The block conference schedule includes four hours of didactics per week. And a high-fidelity simulation curriculum complements the residents’ clinical experience.

You can find out more about this EM residency in the video below…

DETAILS


4. University of Cincinnati

Length of Accredited Training:4
Positions By Year:N/A
PGY1 Annual Salary:$60,203

The University of Cincinnati Emergency Medicine Residency Program is a four-year program. The idea of progressive responsibility and autonomy is core to the program, and each year brings unique challenges and opportunities to the residents.

The Center for Emergency Care at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center is a high-volume urban Level I trauma center. This guarantees the residents get an outstanding clinical experience. They also learn community-based Emergency Medicine in two community suburban clinical sites. Finally, pediatric emergency shifts at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center are integrated throughout all four years.

The program offers a strong EMS curriculum with ground, aeromedical, and telemetry training. Residents can pursue training opportunities in tactical medicine, urban search and rescue, and mass gathering medicine.

For more information on UC’s EM residency, check out the video below…

DETAILS


5. University of Pittsburgh

Length of Accredited Training:3
Positions By Year:N/A
PGY1 Annual Salary:$53,615

The University of Pittsburgh Emergency Medicine Residency offers a three-year program preparing emergency physicians for leadership roles in clinical care, research, teaching, and administration.

Residents spend 7.5 months in the emergency department during the PGY-1 year, providing them with a solid foundation. First-year residents also receive training in critical care and trauma. And experiences in anesthesia, OB, and ultrasound are combined into a one-month rotation.

During the PGY-2 and PGY-3 years, residents spend more time in the emergency department. Their involvement in all aspects of prehospital care also increases. Residents develop their procedural skills, critical thinking, and clinical judgment in the supervised teaching environment of the residency hospitals.

The residency program offers great exposure to all aspects of contemporary prehospital care with the City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Emergency Medical Services. The working knowledge of emergency medical services is acquired in the community and not only in the classroom. This level of hands-on resident involvement is a highlight of this program. Many trainees go on to assume leadership roles in EMS.

In addition to opportunities to work as Flight Physicians on MedEvac and inter-hospital transports, residents can provide medical coverage for mass-gathering events such as Pittsburgh Steelers football games or rock concerts.

For more insight into what it’s like to train in EM at Pitt, check out the video below…

DETAILS


How Do Emergency Medicine (EM) Residency Programs Work?

Training in EM involves completing four years of graduate medical education first before moving on to dedicated residency programs.

EM programs are medium in training length, averaging 3-4 years.

After residency common subspecialties (fellowships) pursued include medical toxicology, palliative medicine, critical care medicine, wilderness medicine, sports medicine, and undersea and hyperbaric medicine.

How Many Emergency Medicine (EM) Residency Programs Are There?

There are over 3000 EM residency training programs according to the AMA.

The examples above are considered the finest offered among those programs in the US and are ranked on criteria via peer assessment, residency director assessment, student selectivity, the mean MCAT score for the institution, the mean GPA of its matriculants, faculty resources, research activity and more.

The exact methodology is detailed in the U.S. News Best Medical Schools Rankings pages

How to Get Accepted Into a Top Emergency Medicine (EM) Residency Program

Gaining admission into the top residency programs involves submitting a competitive application via ERAS, The Electronic Residency Application Service.

This is a centralized online application service that you’ll need to use in order to “match” into the programs above.

Most programs begin reading applications over the first couple of weeks of autumn/fall and invite applicants to interview in the weeks following.

Generally, psychiatry residency program applications include the following:

  • A completed ERAS application
  • Personal statement/s
  • Supplemental statement/s (where requested)
  • Letters of recommendation
  • A full, official medical school transcript
  • Your USMLE Step 1/COMLEX transcripts
  • Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE)

Selection criteria are specific for each program but commonly applicants are scored on a combination of grades, clinical and research experiences, special interests, and anything else surgical departments/programs find relevant.

To be competitive, and stand a chance at matching into the best programs, you’re going to need great Step 1 and Step 2 scores, research experience, impressive extracurriculars, and a solid letter of recommendation.

Sources

  • https://residency.wustl.edu/residencies/length-of-residencies/
  • https://www.salary.com/research/salary/alternate/emergency-medicine-physician-salary