EM Mindset: James E. Colletti – Educating Amidst Chaos

Author: James E. Colletti, MD (@jimcollettimd – Associate Professor of EM / Program Director, Mayo Clinic) // Edited by: Alex Koyfman, MD (@EMHighAK) and Manpreet Singh, MD (@MPrizzleER)

I love my job (well not always but most of the time)!

Emergency Medicine represents the best of all specialties.  The Emergency Medicine physician is the first physician who has the opportunity to see, exam, and manage patients.  More often than not this opportunity occurs with a life-changing event for the patient.  Caring for a patient on the worst day of their life is a privilege.  Emergency physicians make rapid decisions on limited data, gain rapport with limited time, and manage the sick and dying (along with a fair amount of urgent care).  Emergency physicians also have the opportunity to educate in a chaotic, fast-paced, pathology-rich environment.  The most gratifying aspect of my career is the privilege to train residents in the trenches.

With that said practicing Emergency Medicine is not easy.  It has been said life is a zero sum game and so is Emergency Medicine.  There are many competing demands on the Emergency Medicine clinician.  To name a few: delivery of high quality high value patient care, communication, conflict management, clinical metrics of throughput, patients seen per shift, patient satisfaction, RVUs, billing, coding, critical care coding, clinical documentation, procedural documentation, ongoing departmental quality initiatives, and research studies with patient enrollment.  Oh, there is also educating, evaluating, and mentoring the learner in this wonderfully chaotic environment.  Now more than ever, the EM physician is pulled in multiple directions, and educating learners has become an additional task to complete.   So, are there benefits of teaching in a chaotic zero sum game environment?  What are the barriers and challenges of doing so?  Are there strategies that allow one to succeed as a clinician educator?


There are several benefits to being an Emergency Medicine clinician educator.  Remember, trainees are in your department to learn and to be taught.  Teaching is an enjoyable and rewarding experience.  There are very few experiences that are as gratifying as the opportunity to grow the knowledge base of others.  Teaching also keeps you fresh and up to date and is an opportunity to exercise deliberate practice.  Teaching a learner pays forward an educational experience and improves everyone it touches.  Mentoring and developing a learner contributes to patient care, benefits patients and their families, contributes to team work, and improves communication.

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.


4 thoughts on “EM Mindset: James E. Colletti – Educating Amidst Chaos”

  1. Thanks for the great post!
    I would add that teaching represents the perfect example of our job: passions and fun!

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