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The Evolution of Disaster Medicine in America

Disaster MedicineFew medical specialties have changed quite as much as disaster medicine since the term first entered the American lexicon in the 1950s. It’s not just a matter of disasters happening more often in recent years than decades past – it’s that the disasters themselves seem to be more varied. From tsunamis, hurricanes, and tornadoes to terror attacks, bio threats, and other man-made destruction, disaster medicine encompasses an incredible variety of incidents. Yet, this medical specialty is also one that tends to be taken for granted. We all obviously hope we won’t fall victim to a tragedy, but if a situation does arise, we expect that highly trained medical personnel and first responders will be available to help our community heal. However, as any emergency management professional will tell you, this coordinated response doesn’t happen by accident and disaster medicine has evolved from generations of successes and failures – starting first on the battlefield and eventually to our home towns.

Typically, disaster medicine physicians are specialists in other fields of medicine who make themselves available when disaster strikes. The troubling thing, though, is that many of these highly trained, board certified professionals are ill equipped to handle mass trauma, smallpox, anthrax, radiation poisoning, and other potential maladies. At the American Board of Physician Specialties, we recognize this shortcoming in the healthcare field and created the medical board certification in disaster medicine – the only such multi-specialty physician certification body to offer this certification. We believe that physicians experienced in disaster medicine should take a leadership role during times of unrest, and our board certification indicates their ability to rise to the challenge and take charge.

In order to become board certified in disaster medicine, physicians must meet our stringent requirements, which include firsthand experience in the field, FEMA course completion, relevant residency completion, and much more. While the steps toward becoming board certified in this essential field are significant, the importance of the certification is clear. To learn more about the eligibility requirements of becoming board certified in Disaster Medicine by ABPS, contact us today. The ABPS is the official board certifying body of the American Association of Physician Specialists, Inc.