Humor in EM: Is Hallway Medicine Right for You? : Emergency Medicine News

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Emergency Medicine News

Humor in EM

Is Hallway Medicine Right for You?

Flanagan, Brendan James MD

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Emergency Medicine News 45(5C):10.1097/01.EEM.0000936792.81543.59, May 23, 2023. | DOI: 10.1097/01.EEM.0000936792.81543.59

    A fellowship in this subspecialty is not for everyone; there's usually crying


    I am pleased to announce that we are now accepting applications for our prestigious hallway medicine fellowship.

    Hallway medicine focuses on medical care delivered exclusively within the confines of an ED hallway. The need for such a discipline of medicine is evident: Hospitals are crowded and understaffed, and many patients spend hours lying on stretchers that line our hallways, waiting to be seen and wondering if they have been forgotten.

    Fortunately for patients who have been forsaken in this interminable state of limbo that exists between the waiting room and exam rooms, a group of highly specialized physician heroes is here to help. Our subspecialty has been forged in the crucible of a collapsing health care system, and we happily embrace our role with forced smiles that resemble acute tetany.

    Why choose a career in hallway medicine? For starters, you might not have a choice. As staffed hospital beds become increasingly rare, much of the medical care that you provide will need to happen in the hallway no matter how uncomfortable that makes you.

    Beyond this fatalistic necessity, hallway medicine will challenge you as a physician in ways no other specialty could. Any doctor can see a patient with chest pain under normal conditions in an exam room, but who else can say that they regularly care for patients with chest pain who are fully clothed, not on a cardiac monitor, and have not received any workup whatsoever? If you feel like your medical career has stagnated because you have too many resources to care for your patients, then hallway medicine might be for you!

    Hallway medicine encourages physicians to practice at the top of their game and function independently. That is because you will literally be working all by yourself. Nursing shortages have ensured that most of your hallway patients will not have an assigned nurse, meaning that any orders you might place will be the medical equivalent of shouting into an infinite void. You will have to stay on your toes and function as the doctor and the nurse while caring for sick patients.

    Speaking of sick patients, did we mention that hallway medicine has a significant critical care component? After completing your fellowship in hallway medicine, all other critical care environments will likely feel boring by comparison. Resuscitating sick patients is easy when you have a team of trained professionals and equipment at your disposal, but what really gets the adrenaline pumping is doing chest compressions by yourself on someone coding in the hallway while other patients and their family members look on in abject horror.

    Hallway medicine is not for everyone. Not everyone can handle the pressure of routinely evaluating irate patients who have been waiting for hours in an environment that violates their privacy and basic human dignity. Rates of burnout are high, and potential hallway medicine doctors who have not adequately prioritized their own wellness are liable to find themselves weeping in their cars after a grueling shift of seeing the human misery created by a failing health care system that has consistently prioritized profits over patient well-being. These doctors just need to do more yoga.

    Why are you waiting? Embrace the chaos and apply for one of the limited spots in hallway medicine today!

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    • doctermike5:14:22 PMHello, is there a practice track for that? If so, what documentation do we need to submit? What is the timeline? I trained at a large health system in a large, automobile-centric, north-midwestern city colloquially known as the Hallway Hospital. Would a residency certificate suffice?