Erica Shaver, M.D.

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Board Certification: Emergency Medicine

Medical School: Marshall University

Residency: West Virginia University

Faculty Rank: Assistant Professor

Special Clinical/Research Interests: I am an Assistant Program Director for the Emergency Medicine Residency Program at WVU, thus have a particular interest in and focus on resident education and mentorship.

Is there a particular population of students (e.g., ethnicity, spiritual, sexual orientation) that you would particularly like to advise?

I would happily be willing to advise anyone, although I would obviously have more personal experience to share with those planning to pursue a residency in Emergency Medicine.

What does a typical day in the life of an emergency department physician include?

Emergency Medicine is a very dynamic specialty. There is no such thing as "a typical day". :) As an EM physician, you do have a set shift, so this does give you a time schedule by which you can most usually rely on. You are not "on call", but the ED has to be covered 24/7, 365 days a year, so you do work nights, weekends, and holidays as needed. Part of what I love about my job is not knowing what will walk through the door at any second! The fast pace of the Emergency Department keeps an EM physician on their toes! Being able to make a difference at a critical point in another's life and being able to tell a family member that their loved one has a second chance is one of the job's most rewarding aspects.

What is the biggest challenge of being a emergency department physician?

Emergency Medicine is full of challenges---One of the many reasons that it is intriguing as a specialty. Every day is different. Boredom is nonexistent. You must be prepared to handle ANYTHING that walks through the ED doors, and thus, this is a huge challenge in and of itself. Managing a busy, fast-paced Emergency Department requires extraordinary multi-tasking skills and the ability to make some sort of organization out of complete chaos.

How do you foresee the emergency department changing over the next 20 years?

With politics as they are, predicting anything in the field of medicine over the next 20 years is most likely sketchy, at best. I will say that over the past few years, in the wake of healthcare reform, the Emergency Department patient volumes throughout the United States continue to increase. I do not foresee a time in the future when no one will have a healthcare emergency or need to have access to an Emergency care of some type. Based on that fact, I do feel that a certified Emergency Medicine physician will be in demand no matter what happens with the healthcare reform in the future.

What advice would you give a student who is considering an emergency department residency?

A few words of advice: Emergency Medicine is a well hidden secret that has become increasingly more competitive over the past few years due to lifestyle flexibility and a faced-paced environment of acute care combined with procedural opportunities. Seek out opportunities to shadow EM physicians and really investigate what the specialty is about when you spark an interest in the field. Don't wait until late in your clinical years to give EM a chance, because if you later decide you like it, it's often too late to apply. Consider the advantages/disadvantages of shift work, including nights, weekends, and holidays, and self-analyze to see if this lifestyle would work well for you. A career in Emergency Medicine is one of a kind--a perfect match for the highly motivated, adventurous, spontaneous, "quick to think on their feet" type people.