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Authors > James G. Adams, MD

“You can’t be a great emergency physician unless you have a deep knowledge of the content, but getting there can be tedious and boring. I wanted a book that was not boring.” – Dr. James Adams

How Has Emergency Medicine Changed?

Emergency medicine has really transformed in the last generation or two since I’ve been a part of it. When I first started out, the field still had uncertain footing, uncertain expertise. It was chaotic and other specialties didn’t quite know what the role of emergency medicine was. Today it’s completely different. We have some of the smartest people in this specialty and when there’s a problem that subspecialists can’t figure out, they send it to the emergency department. When something is time-critical, it’ll come to the emergency department. When there’s a problem in society, it will come to the emergency department. It’s this enormously reliable place to address anything that is happening. We’ll figure it out, we’ll organize it, we’ll treat it. Then, if the problem has to be in a hand of a specialist, we’ll partner well with them.

Emergency medicine is now highly regarded. When specialists like neurosurgeons and cardiologists defer to the emergency department, it’s enormously gratifying. It also demands sophistication on the part of emergency physicians. Emergency physicians must possess real humility and aspire to the very highest level of quality care. This past generation has brought that high level of care. Now, expertise resides in the emergency department.

What’s New in this Edition of Emergency Medicine?

The first edition was very well received, but there’s always room for improvement. In this edition, we enhanced some areas and minimized others, but kept the same basic philosophy. We wanted this edition to be formatted with boxes and graphs and algorithms so that the reader would be able to look at the information efficiently. We wanted the voice of the expert to come through in each chapter to help guide the reader through the reasoning behind the practice. Keeping that in mind during the editing process, we aimed to improve every chapter in the book. We did a deep rewrite of every chapter and upgraded the entire book, while maintaining the original philosophy and intentions of the first edition. The book still mirrors the core curriculum of the specialty of emergency medicine, but after a number of years and a good reception of the first edition, we had a chance to really improve it.

Keep it Interesting

Emergency physicians and emergency medicine residents, in particular, have to know a lot about a wide range of topics. You can’t be a great emergency physician unless you have a deep knowledge of the content, but getting there can be tedious and boring. I wanted a book that was not boring. I wanted a book that was applied, useful, and engaging, with chapters that are relatively short, and as active as possible. That’s where the boxes and the algorithms come in. The reader can use them to internalize and remember the information.


James G. Adams, MD, FACEP, is Professor and Chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University and Northwestern Memorial Hospital. He has numerous scientific publications and has lectured widely at dozens of universities, academic conferences, and meetings throughout the world. He is an editor of Emergency Medicine, 2nd Edition.

Dr. Adams served on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and was a founding faculty member of the Harvard Affiliated Emergency Medicine Residency. He was also Vice Chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He was honored by the Harvard emergency medicine residents as Best Role Model, Best Clinician, and Outstanding Attending. Additionally, a perpetuating leadership award was dedicated in his name upon his departure of Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Dr. Adams also serves on the board of directors of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine, and as the Senior Associate Editor of the journal Academic Emergency Medicine.