The future of certification is exciting, according to Robert L. Muelleman, MD, FACEP, new President of the American Board of Emergency Medicine (ABEM), who was elected in July and will serve for the 2018–2019 term.
Dr. Muelleman is professor and past chair of the department of emergency medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. He has been a member of the ABEM Board of Directors since July 2011 and was elected to the Executive Committee in 2015.
Dr. Muelleman recently responded in writing to ACEP Now’s questions about his goals as ABEM President and the future of certification.
Given your long involvement in academic emergency medicine, what would you like ACEP members to know about you?
Until two years ago, I was an academic department chair at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. My practice and teaching focus is in the heartland of America. Much of my academic interest revolves around the challenges of providing emergency care in rural America. That brings a unique, somewhat nontraditional focus within academic emergency medicine.
While I was the chair of the Residency Review Committee for Emergency Medicine, I tried to find practical approaches to residency training that would serve physicians who ultimately went to work in community settings. Because most ABEM-certified physicians are community physicians, I want them to know that I am committed to having ABEM serve their needs.
Finally, I’m an avid wine grape grower in Nebraska. Because ACEP Immediate Past President Paul Kivela is a wine maker, I think we will have some fun, non-emergency medicine–related conversations during the upcoming year.
As the President of ABEM, what do you see as the biggest challenges for the specialty?
Emergency medicine has been described as the hub of the U.S. health care system, and I think the wheel is starting to squeak. Although we have high self-expectations and need to keep up with medical advances, we are being pummeled from every side with additional rules and requirements. We want to take some of the pressure away from emergency physicians. We want ABEM certification to be the only credential that an emergency physician will need beyond a medical license. It’s a delicate balance to increase the value of ABEM certification, with its rigorous standards, without burdening physicians with unnecessary work. We know that certification is valuable and is associated with greater levels of income, more career opportunities, and a lower risk of state medical board disciplinary actions. We are constantly seeking ways to make it even more valuable.
How will the “Vision Commission” that the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) is conducting affect ABEM and our specialty?
The Vision Commission was established by ABMS to suggest ways to redesign continuing certification (Maintenance of Certification [MOC]). What’s important for emergency medicine is that we have had a voice on the commission. ABEM Executive Director Earl J. Reisdorff, MD, FACEP, serves on the commission. The commission heard testimony from John C. Moorhead, MD, FACEP, the Chair of ABMS, but, importantly, a past President of both ACEP and ABEM. Testimony from other emergency physicians, including Janet G. H. Eng, DO, FACEP, and Kim M. Feldhaus, MD, FACEP, provided perspectives on the day-to-day realities of emergency physicians; they really portrayed our specialty favorably.