What’s an EMS Fellow?

Running a mass casualty drill in Yosemite National Park

Hi. I’m Stephanie.

I graduated medical school, passed my boards, became a licensed physician, completed a residency in emergency medicine, and am now an EMS fellow in Southern California. I did some other stuff, but that’s irrelevant at the moment.

For those less familiar with the medical hierarchy, here’s some background:

After undergrad, there is four years of medical school, where one earns a doctorate in medicine. After medical school, there is choosing one’s specialty and entering a residency for that field, which is another three to seven years of training. Some common specialties are emergency medicine, surgery, pediatrics, family medicine, OBGYN, neurology and radiology. After completion of residency, one has finally reached the status of being an attending physician. The attendings have completed all of their training. Now, between residency and becoming an attending there is optional additional training called fellowship (another one to three years).

Attending Physician

Fellow (<— That’s me)

Senior resident

Junior resident

Intern (aka a 1st year resident)

Senior medical student

Pre-clinical medical student

Undergrad student/Pre-med

What is an EMS fellow? Good question. I get that a lot - even from other physicians. EMS, which stands for emergency medical services, generally has to do with pre-hospital patient care (ie: from the scene of a 911 call until the patient reaches a hospital), community safety, preparedness, and disaster response.

Some big topics that EMS providers tackle include epidemics, natural disasters, and terrorist attacks. EMS providers include people such as first responders, paramedics, nurses, park rangers, firefighters, and doctors. Some specific tasks might include teaching paramedics, or helping decide what equipment and medications an ambulance carries, or managing how patients and resources are distributed during a disaster. Some EMS physicians get deployed with disaster response teams, while others focus on community outreach and education. Some EMS providers work locally, while other operate at the state or federal level.

And why EMS? Didn’t I put myself through enough schooling and training? Fair point. But, given my experiences living through both 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, I’ve a vested interested in domestic disaster preparedness. I want to make communities safer. I want the country to be better prepared to deal with subsequent terrorist attacks and natural disasters.

In the photos above, I’m helping to run a disaster drill in Yosemite National Park. The photos below are images from a disaster drill I helped run in Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park. The goal of both drills was to help EMTs be better prepared to deal with mass casualty events.

I’m not sure where exactly my niche within EMS will fall but I plan to explore all my options this year.

Let me know if you have any questions.