EM Mindset: Sean M. Fox – Humble Arrogance

Author: Sean M. Fox, MD (Associate Professor, Assistant Program Director, Emergency Medicine Residency Program, Department of Emergency Medicine, Carolinas Medical Center, Charlotte, NC – @PedEMMorsels – www.PedEMMorsels.com) // Editors: Alex Koyfman, MD (@EMHighAK) and Manpreet Singh, MD (@MPrizzleER)

During residency interview season (it really has its own season, like a long cold Winter or an endless Summer), I am treated to a vast lexicon of adjectives that are used to describe what Emergency Medicine embodies to all of the enthusiastic and talented applicants. “Exciting,” “fast paced,” and “controlled chaos” are skillfully tempered with “exhausting,” “challenging,” and “demanding” as these young aficionados of Emergency Medicine attempt to portray the right balance of enthusiasm with realism.  Unquestionably, even the newly indoctrinated can witness the dichotomies that frequently exist within the daily practice of Emergency Medicine.

The practice of Emergency Medicine leads one to function in an interesting world of extremes.  The fast-paced excitement often breaks the moments of monotony.  The control of chaos is often brought about through meticulous training and practice. The Emergency practitioner’s calm exterior is the facade obscuring the frenetic and paranoid mind.  The person who is adept at traversing these extremes and holding seemingly incongruent concepts together in time and space is the person who finds Emergency Medicine to be satisfying.

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.


5 thoughts on “EM Mindset: Sean M. Fox – Humble Arrogance”

  1. Great piece! I second the humble arrogance notion. I m not sure if it’s applicable to other specialties but surely relevant to EM physicians. This become even more relevant to the EM residents who are in training to be the first line of defence yet even considered by other folks as schizophrenics or paranoids.

  2. I would rather use the term Humbled competence, as some practitioners are arrogant the vast majority that I have come to work with are competent and humble about. They know there stuff but don’t boast about it although there are some that the heads can’t fit through the door.

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