Acute Medicine (or Acute Internal Medicine – AIM) is the hospital specialty concerned with the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of adult patients with urgent medical needs. It was formally recognised as a specialty in 2009, having previously been a subspecialty of General Medicine.
There is a broad spectrum of clinical work within the specialty, including the immediate management of life-threatening medical emergencies, the initial treatment (first 72 hours) of all presenting general medical ailments, and the provision of ambulatory care. There is also a strong focus on management and leadership, allowing doctors who train in Acute Medicine to set up and run successful Acute Medicine Units (AMUs).
The range of clinical problems encountered in the AMU is very wide, which gives the work a great deal of variability and enables trainees to become experts in diagnosis, investigation and management across multiple disciplines. There is a focus on the recognition and management of acute medical emergencies, but also on the development of pathways for patients with medical problems who do not require immediate admission.
Acute Medicine is distinct from Emergency Medicine (A&E), although specialist acute physicians often work in close collaboration with specialists in Emergency Medicine. The is also a close relationship with Critical Care, and some trainees in this field will choose Acute Medicine as their primary speciality, before acquiring dual accreditation with Critical Care Medicine.
The development of specialist skills is a core part of training in Acute Medicine. Some trainees will choose to learn a practical skill such as echocardiography, others will gain qualifications in management, leadership or education, and some may choose to become involved in medical research.
Given the nature of the work and the environment in which it is conducted, Acute Medicine tends to attract dynamic individuals who enjoy the wide variety of medicine that can be seen on take and the diagnostic challenges that it may pose. Working in a fast-paced environment, Acute Medics tend to be quite ‘hands-on’ and enjoy working as part of a team; multidisciplinary team working is key to an effective AMU. Another core component of work in Acute Medicine is the development and improvement of services to ensure that patients receive the best care in a timely fashion, because so much of a patient’s journey through hospital is related to their management on initial presentation. Should you choose Acute Medicine as your specialty? If you want to work in the fastest-growing speciality that will be a key determinant of how patients are cared for in the future, then Acute Medicine is for you.
Please see the link below regarding an article about Acute Internal Medicine from the BMJ.