Sustainable Working

Creating successful, satisfying and sustainable careers in Emergency Medicine

Read the summary guides

The College has developed this important strategy to improve the working lives of clinicians working in Emergency Departments in the UK. The guidance documents are specifically aimed to help guide Clinical Directors of Emergency Medicine, clinicians, employers and commissioners of emergency healthcare. 

Key elements 

  • Work patterns: For Emergency Medicine doctors these need to be well structured, sustainable and satisfying.  The College has produced suggested solutions for working practices especially for out of hours and night time working by senior medical decision makers through annualised job planning. Recommendations on the ways in which annualised job plans can enhance working patterns are described.
  • Models of ED function: These have changed over the years and the approaches that clinicians must consider both working in the ED in different roles, how to describe the specialty and profile it to others is vitally important.
  • Flexible careers: Working practices for females and males in Emergency Medicine are changing and the specialty lends itself to allowing better work-life balance and integration as well as enhancing portfolio careers for those choosing to work less than full time.
  • Decades of clinical life: The ways in which careers can be developed pro-actively through each decade of a clinical career to maintain satisfaction and longevity are described.
  • Team working and leadership: A range of tips on how to optimise your team and leadership skills as well as better develop these skills in members of your team are described. 
  • Maintaining well being: Creating tailored strategies to maintain well being and embedding them into daily practice are critical to career sustainability. Equally important is the need to recognise early features of chronic stress to prevent possible burnout in colleagues. This is an area that the College will continue to expand on in the future. 
  • Valuing trainees: Much formal work is ongoing via Health Education England, the GMC and other agencies in this area. In our guidance, a range of top tips from trainees and trainers provides an overview of things that cost little and yet can have a dramatic impact on the future career paths of the young trainee.

What next?

We urge all working in Emergency Departments or responsible for emergency care systems to take the time to read the strategy. Then ensure that:

  • You act upon those components that you can directly influence.
  • Give the strategy to your Clinical Director (if you are not one) and your team. Decide upon the areas of the strategy that most apply to you and devise a local implementation plan.
  • Decide how you can best influence the Executive team and non-Executive team at your Trust/ Hospital Board as well as commissioners to firstly read and then act upon the strategy.
  • Devise a timetable to monitor progress.


Wellness & Exercise



Key messages

  1. Looking after your body - be active
  2. Looking after your mind - keep learning and take notice
  3. Connecting with people - invest in relationships and give


RCEM are proud to be working with Dr Laura Howard on the exciting and innovative new ED Spa.  The ED Spa is a safe space, where practitioners can drop their guard and be real about the challenges they face.  

The ED Spa works on the principle of 5 elements of well-being:

  1. Connect: Take time to invest in meaningful relationships with family, friends, colleagues and communities.  Strong, meaningful relationships will encourage and support you. 
  2. Be Active: Play sport, walk, run, dance, garden, cycle, swim and many more. Find the thing you enjoy that gets you active. 
  3. Give: Be grateful, be kind, do something nice for a friend or a stranger.
  4. Keep learning: Learn a new skill, find a hobby or take on a new challenge.
  5. Take notice: Pay attention and be in the moment, notice how you are feeling. 

More information on the principles of the ED Spa and how to create one in your own ED ware coming over the next few months.  You can also follow or contact the ED Spa on twitter.

Rest and Sleep

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine is pleased to support the EMTA Rest and Sleep Campaign.
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