RIP Dr. Peter Rosen, Father of Emergency Medicine

I just got some super sad news. One of my heroes, Dr. Peter Rosen, father or Emergency Medicine, passed away yesterday.

Dr. Peter Rosen

I first heard of him during my paramedic days, when his eternal words were emblazoned on the little booklet we had to document all our training cases in:

“Nobody woke up this morning and decided to ruin your day. Don't get angry at your patients. Don't get frustrated. Happiness is your choice.”

I was ... different ... then. It didn't sink in until a lot later, that being mad at people, them being intentional assholes, simply in pain, confused, lost, or unintentionally hurtful, was like drinking bleach and hoping someone else would die: never be mad, never get mad. Stay positive, happy. It's a choice. And that choice saved my ass a lot of times, because Emergency Medicine will burn and kill you, if you don't.

He came to talk about EM twice, and the first time I was so starstruck, I didn't (and that's rare) manage to get a word out. The second time I asked him to sign the black book for me, and he did. He asked it I had come from work to see him talk. I said yes. He asked what we'd done that day, and I told him about two cases. He wrote: “You saved a life today, you're my hero. Peter”

He was sharp as a surgeon's knife. He had a way to narrow down complicated cases and turn them into simple steps that would, like a mason's chisel, remove all the clutter from the patient's presentation and leave you with certainty about the next steps. He's the reason I wanted to and still work on getting into medical didactic.

There's a second quote from him:

“Preserve your ideals, don’t let the people around you poke fun at them, and look for where you get your fulfillment and make sure that it is still there and go after it if it is not.”

It's the reason I am back in school at 46, to get further, better, in the one thing I (to no small reason because of him) learned to love: medicine. Together with Nancy Caroline, he's whom I look up to when I think about what I want to be, where I want to be, where my ideals are.

The old three-volume and new two-volume editions of Rosen's Emergency Medicine have followed me everywhere, including to Nicosia. I always wanted to get them signed and tell him what his words meant to me, but now I guess I'll have to hold on to the Black Book.

RIP Peter, you were and are more than a hero to me.