It was the long-running television series ER that introduced many people to the chaotic world of the hospital emergency room. TV viewers saw how messy and improvisational medicine can be, became familiar with words like “intubate” and watched characters such as Dr. John Carter (Noah Wylie) go from nervous medical student to wise and worldly chief resident.

In reality, ER was just scratching the surface. Today’s emergency room is increasingly the “front door” of the hospital, coping not only with the aftermaths of horrific shootings and accidents, but also serving as the first port of call for the sick and elderly. A typical patient in today’s emergency room comes in with a medical illness rather than an injury, receives a full diagnostic workup and ultimately accounts for some two-thirds of inpatient admissions.

As a result, emergency medicine, while still a relatively new specialty (recognized only in 1979), increasingly appeals to MDs who want to be both first-line providers, diagnosing and treating a wide range of injuries and illnesses in the acute phase, but also being involved in setting the direction for ongoing care.  As Michael Harrison, a Saba graduate put it in a talk he delivered at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, “What We Do in the Emergency Department Affects the Rest of the Hospital Course.”

Michael and another Saba graduate, Ryan Duhe, both typify the new world of emergency medicine.

After graduating from Saba—he was valedictorian of his class—Michael Harrison headed to Henry Ford Hospital, ultimately rising to Chief Resident in the Emergency / Internal / Critical Care Medicine program.

A graduate of the University of New Brunswick in Frederiction, Michael taught Kinesiology there and also served in the Canadian armed forces before heading to Saba. A frequent writer and lecturer on emergency medicine and other topics (including wilderness medicine and the health of military veterans), Michael has won both the Best Resident Researcher Award from the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM) and the Resident Academic Achievement Award from the Council of Residency Directors in Emergency Medicine (CORDem).

After graduating from Saba, Ryan Duhe also headed to Detroit, launching his career in the emergency department of Detroit’s Sinai-Grace Hospital and then moving to the University of South Carolina School of Medicine at Greenville, SC, where he is an attending physician and clinical instructor.

In addition to seeing/treating a wide range of Emergency Room patients, Ryan oversees residents and medical students. All incoming students rotating through the Emergency Department study with Ryan in suture labs, EKG classes, learning how to give presentations for Grand Rounds and more. 

Not that long ago, the emergency room was a kind of a medical sideline, staffed by internists or surgeons on a rotating basis. Not anymore. In the 2017 residency match, there were more than 2000 first year positions in Emergency Medicine. It’s now the fourth largest specialty in the match…increasingly attracting top graduates such as Michael and Ryan.