An emergency room physician must not only have a comprehensive knowledge of illnesses and injuries, but also excellent stress management skills and a high level of endurance. Emergency room doctors may work in shifts of 12 hours, during which time they must receive, assess, and plan treatment for patients with high levels of distress. The physicians must also be able to perform triage, or prioritize cases based on the most pressing needs.
Skilled emergency room physicians must be able to treat trauma cases as well as non-trauma cases. In addition, they must determine whether to treat a patient, call in a specialist, or order a discharge. This complex set of skills requires the emergency physician to complete a three- or four-year emergency residency, which often precedes a subspecialty fellowship through which the professional further develops his or her skills.