The Emergency Medicine core content represents the central body of knowledge for the study and practice of emergency medicine. It includes 23 major categories of content divided into appropriate areas of presenting complaints, clinical symptoms, disease states and etiologies. It represents a consensus of opinion of the American Board of Emergency Medicine, the American College of Emergency Physicians and the Society of Academic Emergency Medicine. Although it cannot stand alone, the core content has been used as the framework for the curriculum.

Extensive goals and objectives have been developed for the Emergency Medicine Residency Program based on the core content. These objectives are met through conferences, procedure laboratories, clinical teaching, journal clubs and other academic activities, described in the following sections:


The curriculum is reviewed annually at resident and staff physician meetings.



Clinical Rotations


First Year (PGY1)

PGY1 residents in Emergency Medicine gain a strong foundation in the broad field of medicine, predominantly through clinical inpatient experience. The first year focuses on aspects of general internal medicine, the medical intensive care unit, emergency medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, anesthesiology, and plastic surgery.

Primary skills to be developed include taking medical histories, performing physical examinations, using ancillary laboratory and radiologic studies and developing individual treatment plans.

Weeks Rotation
24 weeks Emergency Department
4 weeks Pediatric Emergency Medicine
4 weeks Obstetrics and Gynecology
4 weeks Anesthesia/Selective*

2 weeks

2 weeks

Plastic Surgery

Patient Safety and/or Disaster Medicine

4 weeks Surgical ICU
4 weeks Coronary Care Unit
4 weeks Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU)
4 weeks Selective*
3 weeks Vacation


*Selectives available include ophthalmology, dermatology, oral and maxillofacial surgery, and ENT clinic.


Second Year (PGY2)

In PGY2, Emergency Medicine residents are expected to refine their skills in individual patient evaluation and management with particular emphasis on life threatening disorders. In the Emergency Department, residents develop major manipulative /procedural skills necessary to aid patients with a variety of disorders. Much of the second-year training involves critical care rotations, including the Coronary Care Unit, the Trauma Service, and the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.

Responsibilities as a PGY2 resident include assistance with instruction of medical students and junior house staff as well as serving as medical command physicians for ground ambulance units.

Weeks Rotation
22 weeks Emergency Department
4 weeks Pediatric ICU (Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh)
8 weeks Coronary Care Unit
4 weeks Trauma ICU
4 weeks Neurology/ICU
4 weeks Community ED (Western Pennsylvania Hospital)
4 weeks Orthopedics/Sports Medicine
4 weeks Pediatric EM (Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh)
2 weeks Ultrasound
3 weeks Vacation


The Third Year (PGY3)

In PGY3, Emergency Medicine residents fine-tune both patient care and administrative skills. As team leaders, they are responsible for managing patients with acute and life-threatening disorders. Rotations include one month as the Emergency Department trauma resuscitator. The bulk of PGY3 is spent in the Emergency Department providing patient care, as well as leadership and teaching of other residents and students. PGY3 residents gain valuable prehospital critical care experience on the LifeFlight rotation and serve as medical command physicians for LifeFlight. Continued refinement of primary care as well as consultative skills is stressed.

Weeks Rotation
28 weeks Emergency Department (ED)*
4 weeks ED Trauma Resuscitation
4 weeks LifeFlight
8 weeks Community Hospital ED*
8 weeks Electives**
3 weeks Vacation


* While on rotation in the Emergency Department, residents work an average of 50 hours each week in active patient care. The shifts generally include day, evening and night hours. Shifts are 8-10 hours.

** Many electives are offered to PGY3 residents to help diversify the training experience. Electives are available in the following areas:

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Ophthalmology
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
  • Anesthesia
  • Orthopedics
  • Plastic Surgery
  • Toxicology
  • Radiology
  • Pediatric Emergency Medicine
  • Ultrasound
  • International Emergency Medicine
  • Pulmonary (Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy)
  • Cardiology/Electrophysiology
  • Dermatology
  • Community Emergency Medicine
  • Administration
  • EMS


Other electives may also be arranged according to resident interest.



Didactic Experiences


The Emergency Medicine (EM) and EM/Internal Medicine (IM) Residency Programs include the following didactic experiences:

Core Content Lecture Series

  • Formal lectures by faculty, guest speakers, and residents*
  • Held every Wednesday from 7 a.m. to 12 noon
  • Protected lecture time, allowing attendance while on most off-service rotations
  • Lecture schedule allows coverage of the Core Curriculum every 18 months


* Interns and Junior Residents present one lecture per year. Senior Residents present twice each year.

Journal Club

  • Presentation of selected articles with discussion by residents and faculty
  • Held monthly

Morbidity and Mortality Conference

  • Case presentation and discussion by residents guided by faculty
  • Held 1-2 times per month

Emergency Medicine Ultrasound Course

  • Formal lecture and ultrasound skills station presented by faculty and guest speakers
  • Annual 2-day seminar

Mass Casualty Training Courses

  • Didactic and hands-on training for mass casualty events. Includes orientation to triage, ED and hospital policy, local and regional administration, and introduction to several aspects of caring for victims of natural and man-made disasters
  • Held biannually

Life Support Courses (ACLS, PALS, ATLS)

  • Classroom format presented by faculty, residents, nurses, and paraprofessionals
  • Held multiple times yearly
  • Instructor courses also available

Oral Board Simulation Sessions

  • One-on-one practice sessions designed to optimize resident preparedness for the Oral portion of the ABEM board exam
  • Held biannually

Resident Retreat

  • Each year, residents celebrate completion of the inservice exam at a 2-day event that includes both relaxation and educational activities
  • Held annually