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Q&A with Emergency Medicine Alum: Dr. Emily Damuth

Friday, November 13, 2020
By Erin Hall, Emergency Medicine

Photo above: Dr. Emily Damuth in the Intensive Care Unit at Camden, New Jersey

Besides being a bedside clinician, what is your role/title/position? 

I work half time in the emergency department and in a mixed medical-surgical intensive care unit. I am an assistant professor of medicine as well as emergency medicine and recently become the assistant program director of the critical care medicine fellowship at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University (CMSRU). I am an advisor at our Medical school, and I advise about 25 students at Cooper. I am a member of our extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) team which provides 24/7 consultation and management of patients requiring mechanical circulatory support for severe acute respiratory failure or shock.

What does your clinical practice look like and what patients do you see?

I see patients in our emergency department, which is an urban underserved population in Camden, New Jersey. The rest of my clinical time is spent rounding in the ICU and doing critical care consultations as well as mechanical circulatory support consultations and taking care of ECMO patients.

"Many of the Duke faculty inspired me to practice emergency medicine and critical care and supported me in that endeavor both formally and informally. I am very grateful for that. 

I believe strongly that emergency medicine provides excellent training for critical care medicine, and the decision by the American Board of Medical Specialties to open doors to EM graduates for internal medicine-based critical care fellowships was landmark."

- Dr. Emily Damuth

How did Duke Emergency Medicine Residency prepare you for this clinical practice?

It definitely prepared me to work at a tertiary care center that serves complex acutely and critically ill patients. I had wonderful mentors at Duke in both the Emergency Medicine (EM) as well as the intensive care unit. Specifically, Dr. Joshua Broder was a mentor that supported me in pursuing critical care fellowship, as well as Dr. Govert in the Medical ICU when I was there and Dr. Neil MacIntyre. Many of the Duke faculty inspired me to practice emergency medicine and critical care and supported me in that endeavor both formally and informally. I am very grateful for that. The year I applied to critical care medicine fellowship in 2009 was the first year that internal medicine critical care fellowships were considering emergency medicine graduates. I believe strongly that emergency medicine provides excellent training for critical care medicine, and the decision by the American Board of Medical Specialties to open doors to EM graduates for internal medicine-based critical care fellowships was landmark. I am lucky to be part of the first calls of emergency medicine graduates to have had the opportunity for formal critical care training withing a board certification pathway. It would not have been possible without the support of my mentors at Duke in both EM and ICU.

What is next for you?

I have been at Cooper now for almost 10 years and really have found that the relationship between the departments of emergency medicine and critical care work seamlessly together. Both departments have supported me in the work that I am most passionate about, which is taking care of critically ill patients as well as teaching residents, critical care fellows, and medical students. This will be the first year I will be serving as the assistant program director for the critical care fellowship and I am really excited about this opportunity. I have also enjoyed formally advising our medical students at CMSRU for the past 5 years. My husband also works as an emergency physician and is the director of clinical research in the Cooper ED. We really enjoy working together at Cooper.

Is there anything personal in your life that has happened since residency that you'd be willing to share that influenced any of the things above (marriage, kids, moving, other family events)?

I have 3 children (ages 2, 5, and 7), so they certainly influence me in a number of ways that are all positive. Balancing work and family are a priority for me and my dual role in EM and CCM has allowed that.

I would be remiss to not mention the effect of the coronavirus pandemic. We were profoundly affected early on in New Jersey and this led to rapid expansion of our ECMO program given the severity of lung injury that patients with COVID-ARDS sustained. The lack of family visitation was extremely emotional, particularly in the ICU where I was pulled full time for the last 8 months. While devastating, the past several months made me grateful for my training in emergency medicine and critical care to be able to provide care on the front lines for those affected. The only bright spot of the pandemic has been the multidisciplinary teamwork by healthcare providers in the ICU. Working alongside providers trained in anesthesia, surgery, medicine, and emergency medicine augmented the care we delivered during the resource-strained pandemic. It was and is so essential to prioritize communication with families given the restrictions on visitation. Visitor restrictions have been the most difficult and heart-wrenching part of medicine that I have encountered in my career.

Do you have a favorite Duke Emergency Medicine residency memory?

I loved the environment of Duke athletics. I played basketball in college and during residency. The Duke women’s basketball team allowed me to coach at their camps. That was definitely a highlight of my time there. Additionally, I joined the EMS team supporting fans during men’s basketball. There is nothing like being court side at Cameron. I also have wonderful memories of managing patients and learning from my mentors there, including Dr. Charles Gerardo, Dr. Joshua Broder, Dr. Alexander Limkakeng, and Dr. David Gordon. I also loved working closely with Duke medical and PA students while teaching ECG interpretation.

 

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