Despite some concerns that it might do more harm than good, a definition of an emergency physician was prescribed by the ACEP Board of Directors this summer, acting on the will of the Council, which represents the ACEP membership.
Explore This IssueACEP News: Vol 30 – No 08 – August 2011
The definition states: “An emergency physician is defined as a physician who is certified (or eligible to be certified) by ABEM or AOBEM or an equivalent international certifying body recognized by ABEM or AOBEM in emergency medicine or pediatric emergency medicine, or who is eligible for active membership in the American College of Emergency Physicians. It should be noted that residents in an ACGME or AOA approved residency in emergency medicine are emergency medicine resident physicians.”
ACEP President Dr. Sandra Schneider said the definition is important because it will put to rest internal debates that divert the College’s attention from pressing clinical and practice-related issues.
“It is clear our membership speaking through the Council felt it was necessary to define the term emergency physician,” she said. “This definition is based on our long-standing policy that no one should enter the practice of emergency medicine in the U.S. in the 21st century without proper training in an ACGME or AOA certified emergency medicine residency program.
“This definition applies to the United States, as other countries will create their own definitions based upon their training models,” she added.
Dr. Schneider also reiterated that credentialing is a local hospital matter and should be based on an individual’s qualifications and competencies.
The ACEP Council consists of members representing ACEP’s 53 chartered chapters (50 states, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and Government Services), its 30 sections of membership, the Association of Academic Chairs in Emergency Medicine (AACEM), the Council of Emergency Medicine Residency Directors (CORD), and the Emergency Medicine Residents’ Association (EMRA).
At its 2010 annual meeting, the Council had lively deliberations about the proposed resolution and ultimately deferred the resolution to the Board of Directors. The Board asked the Membership Committee to consider the Council resolution, and the committee returned a proposed definition, which was the basis for the definition the Board approved in June.
“There was consensus to be inclusive yet still specific as to what is sought by, we believe, all factions,” wrote Dr. Michael J. Tocci, chair of the Membership Committee, in a memo to the Board.
“To guide this process, without painting emergency medicine as negative, we need to find ways to collaborate, include, and fight for common healthy goals, and a definition of an emergency physician may help. This would then allow us to move on to bigger issues together,” he wrote. “ACEP cannot tackle these goals on a national stage without more members, more cooperation, and less fear.”