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Cognitive Load and the Emergency Physician

You may not know what cognitive load is, but if you work in an Emergency Department (ED) you are probably carrying a ton of it. Cognitive load refers to the total amount of mental effort burdening your working memory at any given time. Working in an ED can involve extremely high cognitive load, and learning to understand and manage it can make you more efficient and less stressed on shift. In the field of ED management, the ED bed is often described as the ‘Million Dollar resource’. If that is true, then the cognitive machinery of the Emergency Physician has to be the ‘Billion Dollar resource’.