After the early implementation of Emergency Medicine (EM) 25 years ago, Iceland became the first Nordic country to nationally realize the benefits of this specialty. However, the road has been rocky as in many other countries. The early years of EM in Iceland were characterized by a significant shortage of resources, particularly a lack of medical staff dedicated to EM and properly trained for the services required. The main task for the first couple of decades was to build the infrastructure of an operational emergency department based primarily on the model of EM. Although these efforts eventually led to a critical number of specialists becoming certified in EM, recruiting more people remains a priority in order to fully meet the need for specialty trained emergency physicians in Iceland. A key step towards achieving this goal was the initiation of a two-year residency program for specialty training in EM in year 2002. The program was based on a curriculum produced by the Icelandic Society for Emergency Medicine, which had been founded in year 2000. This training program is currently being redeveloped and the curriculum of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine in the UK will be adopted for use in Iceland. Another important milestone was the appointment of the first faculty member dedicated to EM at the University of Iceland. This created an opportunity to teach medical students EM and advance training at the graduate level. Also, conditions for scientific research in EM have been improved, following the establishment of an EM research institute in 2010.
Other Nordic countries may be able to benefit from lessons learned and experiences gained from the development of emergency medicine in Iceland during the past quarter of a century.