In light of ACEP’s approaching golden anniversary, ACEP Now took a look back at the last 50 years of emergency medicine and the people and trends that have shaped the specialty.
ACEP Now Medical Editor-in-Chief Kevin Klauer, DO, EJD, FACEP, recently discussed the history of the specialty with two emergency physicians who have been members of the same EM group for their entire 45-year careers, a past ACEP President, and one of the next generation of EM leaders. The group discussed the origins of emergency medicine, how it has grown and changed over the years, and what the future holds. Here are some highlights from that conversation.
Kevin M. Klauer, DO, EJD, FACEP, is an ACEP board member; chief medical officer–emergency medicine, chief risk officer, and executive director–patient safety organization at TeamHealth; ACEP Now medical Editor-in-Chief; and assistant clinical professor, Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine, East Lansing.
KK: John, what was emergency medicine like when you and Harry started?
JS: Harry and I started at St. Elizabeth’s July 1, 1971. We had no hospital status, no department, no representation on the executive committee, no leadership positions in the hospital, and, of course, we had no specialty status. We had to learn to make our own way. We look at things differently now. There’s a lot more corporate medicine, and we have the benefit of clinical and even financial guidelines, regulations, and rules that ACEP has been instrumental in developing for us over the years. A lot has changed.
KK: John and Harry, what prompted you to start an emergency medicine group?
HM: John and I were on a ski trip while we were interns, and both of us had been working in emergency rooms as interns. Four of us in medical school decided to form a group. John and another were interning at St. Elizabeth’s. I was interning up at Indiana University in South Bend. Another gentleman was in Minnesota. The possibility came about for St. Elizabeth’s Hospital—who was using residents, family practice guys, and others to staff the emergency department—to form a group.
JS: I still have the original letter that I sent to the hospital administrator when Harry and I and two others had decided to form this group. This is a one-page proposal, $15 an hour was what we asked for, and we offered to have a group of four physicians committed to St. Elizabeth’s, committed to a career in emergency medicine. He signed it, and off we went.