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Release: Nov. 20, 2001

UI program trains physicians in emergency medicine

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- One year after its formation, the University of Iowa Program in Emergency Medicine is fulfilling its mission, focusing on clinical and teaching aspects to better educate students, which will ultimately better serve patients.

UI College of Medicine officials received approval from the Board of Regents, State of Iowa in November 2000 for the establishment of an independent program in emergency medicine. Officials said this program would best serve the educational needs of medical students and medical residents if the faculty were part of an independent program that provided a comprehensive curriculum in emergency medicine. Emergency medicine faculty members had historically been part of the UI Department of Surgery.

The program came about because of an increase in the number of patients treated at the Emergency Treatment Center at UI Hospitals and Clinics and a heightened student interest in emergency medicine as a career. The program trains not only students and residents who will be emergency medicine specialists, but also those who will go into family medicine at small hospitals and clinics in Iowa and other states. Family physicians typically see the majority of emergency medical cases at these hospitals and clinics.

The program is offered as a one-month rotation. Students learn how to identify an emergency case as well as how to stabilize a patient. Currently there is no emergency medicine residency program at the UI, although one may be formed in the future.

Despite an increased interest in emergency medicine, Iowa has a shortage of trained emergency medicine physicians. Andrew Nugent, M.D., UI assistant professor (clinical) and interim director of the program, said cost is one reason.

"Iowa is a rural state. Many small local hospitals don't have enough emergency-care cases and can't afford to keep an emergency medicine physician on staff," Nugent said. "What this program does is help medical students and residents who will go into family medicine to recognize and effectively treat emergency cases."

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at