Q&A with Dr. Eric Forsthoefel, an Emergency Room Physician

Dr. Eric Forsthoefel, ER Doctor

Tell us a bit about your career.

I have been an emergency medicine physician for about seven years. I am currently an Emergency Physician based in Tallahassee, Florida.

Although I have been exposed to medicine my entire life, I was not at first sure whether I wanted to pursue a career in medicine. I obtained my undergraduate degree in Religion at Florida State University in 2004. I did have a change of heart toward the end of my undergraduate degree, and I decided that I wanted to pursue medicine, after all. I obtained my MD from the University of Louisville Medical School and did my residency in emergency medicine at Louisiana State University. I am trained to assess, respond to, and treat patients during an emergency medical predicament, which can cover a wide range of health or medical concerns, including trauma, fractures, cardiac distress, cuts, and other acute illnesses.

I hold two board certifications in emergency medicine from the American Board of Emergency Medicine. I obtained my LA State Medical License in 2013 and my FL State Medical License in 2014.

What are some of the important factors that led to where you are today?

Most importantly, I do what I love. My key to success in Emergency Medicine was probably that I realized its chaotic dynamics at the very start, and this enabled me to make adjustments in such a way that enabled me to be the best I can be. I realized that organization is key to thriving in an environment that is unpredictable and fast-paced. I also realized that teamwork is so crucial for any kind of work environment and that success is rarely achieved alone. My colleagues and I are always thinking of new ways to improve things in the workplace. This has two main benefits – it leads to greater job satisfaction and better therapies for patients in the end.

What are a few of your passions?

My passions revolve around looking for ways to improve health care. As a physician, I try to look beyond just addressing the physical ailments of a patient but also how the system can be enhanced so that patients’ ailments can be addressed as best as possible. This focus on the business side of medicine has always attracted me. As such, I am always looking for ways to improve in areas such as my own as well as more novel aspects of the business such as electronic healthcare records, for example.

What are your keys to staying productive?

I would say that being detail oriented is by far the most important part of staying productive. I have an ability to focus and pay attention to detail, and these characteristics have been crucial in being as productive and proficient in my line of work. They also enable me to truly dedicate myself to each patient as I take in all aspects of their ailments. Taking all of it into consideration enables me to make the best decisions for them, which is especially important within the chaotic backdrop of the emergency department setting. Having to work fast while being able to pay attention to detail has enabled me to take a patient’s medical history without missing out on any potential crucial details that could hold key clues to the best diagnosis. 

What are your short-term and long-term goals?

My short-term and long-term goals are aligned with my passions about improving the business of healthcare. As such, I would say that short term goals revolve around addressing patients’ physical ailments while the long-term goals are focused on looking for ways to improve the system.

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned during your career?

No man is an island, and teamwork is crucial for success. As such, maintaining strong interpersonal relationships is key to everyone’s success and not just my own. This is also related to another aspect that I believe is vital and that is encouraging feedback as well as providing feedback. Asking for and giving feedback allows for both individual as well as group improvement.

What advice would you give to others aspiring to succeed in your field?

A career in medicine is not lined with instant gratification – it is both time consuming and very costly. This is why commitment to the field ought to be at the heart of everyone pursuing it. Success in medicine heavily relies on a life-long devotion to continuous learning and a never-ending education that does not stop after medical school and residency training. Also, remaining passionate and driven is important, and this also makes medicine a very gratifying and fulfilling career choice. I am both honored and humbled to be able to improve the lives of those who need it the most.

What are your favorite activities to do outside of work?

I love barbecuing, but I do have to admit that it has been somewhat of a love-hate relationship. I cannot seem to figure out how to make a good smoked brisket, and I have tried for quite some time. After many very dry pieces of meat ending up in the trash, I am still trying and very eager to overcome this. I am always open to tips and tricks of those who have succeeded in this endeavor.

What are a few influential books that you’ve read and/or websites you keep up with that you’d recommend to others?

Without a doubt this would be a classic that was written in 1970, and a piece of work that every aspiring emergency room or even intensive care unit physician should read if they are seeking to improve their approach to medicine and patients. The House of God, written by Samuel Shem discusses many of the health care issues that still hold true today. It addresses so many of the difficult situations that physicians are placed into and reading about just that alone is a kind of comforting therapy. Overall, a must-read for those who are about to or have embarked upon the fast paced, dynamic and hectic discipline of emergency care medicine.

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