The field of emergency medicine encompasses the provision of care to acutely ill and injured patients in both the community (prehospital) and hospital (emergency department) settings. While the initial ambulatory and critical care provided by the emergency physician overlaps that of other clinical specialties, the practice of emergency care is characterized by an unselected patient population, 24-hour availability, and the simultaneous management of multiple patients with varying presentations and degrees of illness or injury. For much of modern society's mobile population, emergency medicine offers the primary portal for accessing the health care system. The emergency physician must provide an effective interface between the patient and the physician(s) who will provide the patient's subsequent care.
Recognition of the unique knowledge base and clinical skills needed for the practice of emergency medicine led the American Board of Medical Specialties to recognize the American Board of Emergency Medicine as a primary board in
Hedges JR. Emergency Medicine. JAMA. 1990;263(19):2637–2638. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03440190093048