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About the Department of Emergency Medicine

la jolla emergency department

Our Mission

The Mission of the UC San Diego Department of Emergency Medicine (DEM) is to provide the highest level of patient care and customer service while shaping the future of emergency medical care through innovation, research, and education. 

Who We Are

The Department of Emergency Medicine at UC San Diego was established in 1977 and became a full academic department at the University in 2013. The department is led by the Chair, Dr. Ted Chan, Professor of Emergency Medicine and includes over 80 academic, full-time clinical and research faculty. Read more about our faculty. 

The department includes multiple subspecialty sections, as well as centers of excellence. Read more about our divisions and centers. 

Education and Training 

We maintain robust programs in education, training, research and clinical services. Our training programs in emergency medicine and related subspecialties are nationally recognized. Find out more about our education programs including student clerkships, residency training and subspecialty fellowship programs.  


The department’s research program and portfolio are outstanding. Faculty have received research funding grants from the NIH, National Science Foundation, White House Office of Health Information Technology, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Emergency Medicine Foundation, US Department of Justice, and a multitude of other regional, state, national and international organizations. Read more about our research program.

Clinical Care

The Department of Emergency Medicine is an integral part of UC San Diego Health and its hospitals which have been ranked #1 in the San Diego region, and recognized among the best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. 


The UCSD Department of Emergency Medicine faculty provide acute and critical care for nearly 120,000 patient visits annually at three Emergency Department locations in the San Diego and Imperial Counties. Two of these sites are located at UC San Diego Health – our Hillcrest Medical Center, located in mid-San Diego, and Thornton Pavilion, part of Jacobs Medical Center, located in north San Diego on the main UCSD campus.
Faculty also staff the Emergency Department at our Imperial County affiliate, El Centro Regional Medical Center and the Urgent Care Center in La Jolla. 

UCSD Hillcrest Medical Center & Emergency Department ​​​


Hillcrest Medical Center has been the primary teaching hospital for UC San Diego since the 1960s and the Emergency Department has been designated by the State of California as a a Comprehensive Emergency Medical Service Center, meaning that the facility is capable of providing a scope of services in which all medical situations can be managed on a definitive and continuous basis. UCSD Hillcrest Medical Center is the only facility so designated in San Diego and Imperial Counties, and is one of only four in California. 

The Hillcrest site offers a full range of primary, secondary, tertiary, and quarternary care services at its 446- bed acute care hospital and ambulatory care center including specialty and subspecialty clinics serving a diverse patient population. It serves as the Level I Trauma Center for both San Diego and Imperial Counties, and offers numerous highly specialized services including the Regional Burn Center, the Infant Special Care Center, the Regional Transplant Center, the Hyperbaric Medicine Center, the Comprehensive Central Nervous System Injury Center, Comprehensive Stroke Care Center designation, and the General Clinical Research Center.

The Hillcrest Emergency Department is the only Licensed Comprehensive Emergency Department in San Diego, Imperial or Riverside Counties and the primary training site for the UC San Diego School of Medicine. It is also one of only four Comprehensive Departments in the State of California. The ED has 36 beds including three critical care beds and one resuscitation bay and has its own dedicated X-ray unit, as well as 360-slice CT scanner and MRI located contiguous to the ED. The Hillcrest Emergency Department treats approximately 50,000 patients per year and is a designated County Base Station for oversight of prehospital Emergency Medical Services. The ED is also a designated acute cardiac STEMI receiving center and comprehensive stroke care center. In addition, the UCSD Hillcrest Medical Center is a level 1 trauma center and the only Regional Burn Center for San Diego and Imperial Counties. The Department is staffed by single, double and triple faculty coverage throughout the day, as well as Senior and Junior level Emergency Medicine residents. In addition, faculty supervise rotating housestaff from Internal Medicine, General Surgery, ENT, Orthopedics, Reproductive Medicine, and Family Medicine in the ED.​

UCSD Jacobs Medical Center (JMC) & Emergency Department in La Jolla

jacobs medical center

UCSD Jacobs Medical Center includes the original Thornton Hospital (now Thornton Pavilion) which opened in 1993, and JMC, a state-of-the-art, 245-bed, 10-story inpatient facility and innovative advanced medical center with areas focused on advanced surgery, cancer care, and women and infants care which opened in 2016. The La Jolla site also includes the Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center, the region’s first academic-based facility combining all heart and vascular-related services, as well as the NIH-designated Moores Cancer Center, the only such nationally recognized facility in San Diego and Imperial Counties. 

The Emergency Department at UCSD JMC La Jolla has 32 beds including 4 critical care beds. The ED currently cares for approximately 30,000 patient visits per year with high acuity due to its location at the JMC quaternary care center, NIH Cancer center and Cardiovascular center. The department is staffed by single, double, and triple attending faculty coverage along with a senior EM resident during the day and evening hours. In 2018, the ED expanded with the Gary and Mary West Senior ED​, an advanced Geriatric acute care unit – the first such unit in California.