EM Mindset: Christopher Hicks – The EM Mindset

Christopher Hicks, MD, MEd, FRCPC (Emergency Physician / Trauma Team Leader, St. Michael’s Hospital; Education Research Scientist, Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute; Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine; Associate Residency Program Director, Division of Emergency Medicine; @HumanFact0rz) // Editors: Alex Koyfman, MD (@EMHighAK) and Manpreet Singh, MD (@MPrizzleER)

I think we have emergency medicine all wrong. That isn’t to say that I have it all figured out – the path to enlightenment by no means flows through my Twitter account. There was a time when I believed that being a good emergentologist meant knowing a lot of stuff – once you knew enough stuff, the rest would be easy. To a certain extent that’s true – what we know about expertise suggests that the real difference between novices and experts really comes down to how much stuff you know, and your ability to bring that knowledge to bear. And although there’s no substitute for reading and learning (I would emphasize – keep reading, keep learning), I’ve come to recognize that it isn’t the hard part.

The hard part is everything else; namely, how we think about problems, how we function (or fail to function) during a critical event, and how to take something positive away from even the most spectacular train wreck of a shift. The EM mindset as I see it is as much a philosophy as it is a skill set. Part warrior Zen, part mental calisthenics. The key, and what I think we’ve failed at for many years, is to give these skills a name, and then practice and train them explicitly.

If you are interested in reading the rest of this and other EM Mindset pieces, please see “An Emergency Medicine Mindset,” a collection evaluating the thought process of emergency physicians. This book is available as ebook and print on Amazon. 


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