ABODM: Recent Earthquake & Hurricane Irene Demonstrate Why Every Physician Should Make Disaster Medicine Their Second Specialty

Aug 31, 2011

Tampa, FL – The recent destruction along the East Coast caused by the earthquake and Hurricane Irene proved, once again, how disasters can strike anytime and anywhere. These recent events affected areas not accustomed to hurricanes & earthquakes and demonstrated the need of preparedness for all types of disasters.

Just as communities prepare for thepotential effects of disasters, natural or man-made, all local physicians must be prepared as well. The American Board of Disaster Medicine® (ABODM®) believes disaster medicine should be every physician’s second specialty.

Physicians trained in disaster medicine are needed to provide medical expertise and to work in tandem with other stakeholders to create public health policies that improve both the effectiveness and availability of medical care during epidemics, terrorist attacks and natural disasters,” stated Martin E. Thornton, D.O., ABODM former chairman, as well as a disaster medicine specialist and emergency medicine physician from Aubrey, TX.

Dr. Thornton has been actively deployed for many disaster missions and his participation in rescue operations at the New Orleans International Airport after Hurricane Katrina was followed by international disaster management and consultations. Most recently, he participated in lending aid to Haiti after the devastating earthquake.

According to Dr. Thornton, the key to disaster response is good planning. Physicians need to have a plan and assemble appropriate emergency kits for potential disasters in their locality. They can begin by contacting local disaster preparedness organizations for information and the opportunity to network with other professionals to know what resources are available.

For physicians to be an asset and not a potential victim in a disaster they must be informed. They should all take a proactive approach in knowing who is responsible for implementing the community preparedness plan and who is leading their hospital preparedness plan. More importantly, they need to know how to communicate with these entities in order to be an effective physician in a disaster situation.

“All too often, physicians well-meaning attempts to assist in cases of disaster such as tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes and floods lead to more pandemonium due to a lack of disaster medicine skills,” said Dr. Thornton. Rule number one in disaster medicine is, “Never become part of the disaster.”

Local leaders involved in the community and hospital preparedness planning should ask any physician who wants to get involved about their disaster medicine experience, knowledge and training.

About the American Board of Disaster Medicine

The American Board of Disaster Medicine (ABODM) comprises nationally distinguished physicians of numerous medical specialties who have comprehensive knowledge of disaster management, triage and incident command. ABODM is a member board of the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS), the certifying organization of the American Association of Physician Specialists (AAPS). ABPS certifies both allopathic and osteopathic physicians in 17 specialties, including disaster medicine. Learn more at www.abpsus.org.

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On October 18, 2007, President George W. Bush released Homeland Security Presidential Directive 21 (HSPD-21), calling on our nation, among other initiatives, to “collectively support and facilitate the establishment of a discipline of disaster health”. It is a great testament to the wisdom and foresight of the American Board of Physician Specialties that it immediately set to work and created, within the short span of only one year, an educational blueprint and set of certification examinations, both written and oral, for a new subspecialty of disaster medicine—and it is why I chose to be part this vital initiative and this wonderful organization. This is but one of the many innovative programs initiated by the American Board of Physician Specialties over the years, and why I am proud to support its work on behalf of our nation’s public health.

Art Cooper, MD
Disaster Medicine
When the American Board of Physician Specialties offered to host the American Board of Integrative Medicine, ABPS became a landmark organization working to move medicine into the twenty first century. Certifying physicians who have completed rigorous academic training in Integrative Medicine ensures that the field of Integrative Medicine will continue to develop academically, clinically, and professionally. The leadership of ABPS continues to impress me - they are diligent in constantly innovating to provide certifications for physicians who want to advance their careers and their areas of expertise. I am honored to be a part of this organization.

Ann Marie Chiasson, MD
Integrative Medicine
There are many ways board certification advances a physician career. ABPS Board examination verifies your accuracy, precision, and reflects your mastery of your residency training verifying your expertise. ABPS Board certification demonstrates your level of expertise beyond your practice experience, primary education degrees, and training which are necessary for insurance reimbursement and practice privilege requirements. Attaining your ABPS Board Certification will clarify your purpose, secure your practice growth, and expand into leadership positions. Board certification can serve as an indication of a physician’s commitment to medicine, beyond the minimal standards and competency of training, their measurement to quality of care, and attaining an award for excellence.

Chris Kunis MD
Internal Medicine
When I think historically, advancement in medicine and patient safety and care has been driven by the diversity of people and scientific thought. That’s what I found at the ABPS and more. For over 60 years that is just who we are. I found a physician certifying body that provides a choice and voice to all physicians ensuring that patients are always placed first.

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Emergency Medicine
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Richard Paula, MD
Administrative Medicine
The American Board of Physician Specialties has provided me with the opportunity to demonstrate mastery of internal medicine through board certification. As a hospitalist, board certification is an expected credential, and hospitals recognize the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS) as one of the three standard credentialling bodies for Internal Medicine. Additionally, the ABPS has helped me develop leadership skills as a Board member and Committee Chairperson. ABPS has also helped me sharpen critical thinking skills as a test question developer and reviewer. The Allopathic (MD) and Osteopathic (DO) physicians in the ABPS are lifelong learners and frequently pursue multiple board certifications. I enjoy the camaraderie of my peers in ABPS.

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Internal Medicine