Special Interest Group in Emergency Medicine to Launch at Assembly

Organizers to Allow for Remote Participation

September 08, 2010 12:45 am Barbara Bein

Almost one year after the AAFP Congress of Delegates passed resolutions supporting family physicians who work in emergency medicine, a special interest group for this constituency will hold its inaugural meeting during the 2010 AAFP Scientific Assembly in Denver.


Physicians who practice or want to practice emergency medicine, as well as those who train family medicine residents, are invited to attend the first meeting of the AAFP Special Interest Group in Emergency Medicine from 12:30- 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 29 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

"It is important to have a group for our physician members who practice emergency medicine so they can have a voice and discuss issues that they face daily," said Kim Yu, M.D., of Novi, Mich., one of the organizers of the special interest group meeting. "They face prejudice, discrepancies in pay and an uncertain future."

FPs as Emergency Docs Is Nothing New

Issues surrounding family physicians who work in emergency medicine are hardly new. The topic gained traction in 2005, when an AAFP member survey found that some 2.5 percent of respondents provided full-time emergency medical care and about half provided at least some emergency medical services.

Since that time, the AAFP Congress has revisited the issue multiple times, adopting policies that emphasize FPs' qualifications to practice in this capacity.

In addition, the American Board of Family Medicine and the American Board of Emergency Medicine jointly developed guidelines for a combined family medicine-emergency medicine residency training program. In 2007, Christiana Care Health System in Wilmington, Del., launched the first such combined program(www.christianacare.org) in the country and is scheduled to graduate its first dually board-eligible resident in 2012.

The issue resurfaced during the 2009 National Conference of Special Constituencies, when delegates directed the AAFP to advocate to various organizations that board-certified family physicians are qualified to staff emergency rooms, or ERs.

Subsequently, the AAFP Congress called for the Academy to establish a subcommittee on emergency medicine and develop a workforce plan focused on FPs who practice emergency medicine.

Most recently, the AAFP Board of Directors decided in April to establish a special interest group tasked with crafting a workforce statement that might be included as an amendment to the Academy's current workforce policy.

Physicians who attend the meeting will have the opportunity to

  • provide input for this new representative component of the Academy's governance structure;
  • discuss the group's mission and goals;
  • network with like-minded family physicians; and
  • share their thoughts about family medicine's influence on the nation's emergency medicine workforce.

Yu told AAFP News Now she looks forward to a big turnout for the group's first meeting, as well as lively discussions about the challenges facing FPs who work in emergency medicine. For those who are unable to attend, however, she said the group plans to set up a toll-free phone line that will allow members to call in and participate by phone during the meeting. Interested members also can join the emergency medicine community on AAFP Connection (you'll need your member ID to sign up.)

The new group debuts at a time when the number of residency-trained and board-certified emergency medicine physicians is, according to recent research(onlinelibrary.wiley.com), nowhere near the number required to care for the nation's emergency medical care needs in the coming years, especially in rural areas.

"Despite many emergency medicine-trained and -boarded physicians being churned out by emergency medicine residencies, the number of board-certified emergency medicine trained physicians still falls far from the number of emergency room physicians that will be needed in this country," Yu said.

"The issue of whether new physicians and our residency graduates will be able to work in emergency medicine is vital to the health of many communities throughout this country who rely on FPs to provide care in their ER," she added.