ABPS Diplomate Leonard Lamsen, MD, On What It’s Like to Be an Emergency Medicine Physician

Leonard Lamsen, MDWhen I was in medical school, I had a difficult time deciding on a specialty. I knew I liked variety, and both family and emergency medicine treated patients regardless of age and gender. After speaking to my mentors in both specialties and meeting emergency physicians who had completed family medicine training, I decided to pursue family medicine.

During my family medicine residency, I discovered that I had an affinity for treating more emergent medical problems, so I entered the emergency medicine fellowship program at the University of Tennessee Medical Center. I graduated from the program in 2011 and continue to practice at UTMC to this day.

Without a doubt, emergency medicine has been a good fit for me. As someone with a growth mindset, I have enjoyed a wealth of opportunities to acquire new information and skills in a field that continues to innovate. For instance, I’ve completed additional training in point-of-care ultrasound and medical simulation. Not only has this improved my practice, but I’ve also been able to integrate it into the EM fellowship at UTMC. As an EM physician, I also have the foundation to stabilize and manage virtually any condition, treating men, women, and children, and the whole spectrum of a disease or illness.

What I find especially interesting about practicing EM is the emotions it evokes. I don’t consider myself an emotional person, but in any given shift, I can experience so many emotions, from excitement when I’m working with my team on resuscitating a patient to hope when our efforts are successful. And, at the end of the day, no matter how it went, I can experience satisfaction from knowing I’ve done my best to improve the lives of my patients.

As rewarding as it is, working in the emergency room is also demanding. During busy hours, patient flow can be a challenge, with patients we’re actively seeing, patients waiting for rooms, and patients in the lobby waiting to be seen but who have no rooms available. The lifestyle can also be tough. Because the emergency department is open every day, around the clock, I must work some weekends and holidays, but with thoughtful advance planning, I can still “be there” for my family at most events. Fortunately, I have a wonderful family who supports me as well as colleagues and leaders who make job flexibility possible.

My most memorable experience in the ER happened when I was working a busy night shift. I’d set my phone on silent as I usually do, so, throughout the night, I did not receive the phone calls from my pregnant wife. Finally, she texted me, telling me that she had arrived and was waiting in the car. Apparently, her contractions were intensifying and she was afraid that she wouldn’t be able to drive herself to the hospital. We had our daughter that day.

If I could give some advice to an EM physician in training, I’d say, “Every patient can be a learning opportunity, and not only your patients, but also those of your colleagues. While in training, learn and become proficient in all the skills you can because acquiring new skills will become harder once you get out.”

For physicians in training, I think soft skills are less tangible and harder to quantify, but they can make a world of difference once they begin working in the emergency department. Communication, leadership, teamwork, flexibility, and time management are soft skills that all EM physicians should develop. We do not work in a silo. We encounter people from all walks of life—family members, pre-hospital personnel, hospital administration, students, residents, other physicians, nurses, and other healthcare staff. It is important that we learn to communicate effectively with such a diverse group of people. We need to exercise leadership and teamwork to constantly engage our staff and consultants to provide the best care for our patients. And, since emergency departments can often be overcrowded, we need to have flexibility and time management skills to treat our critically ill patients while ensuring less emergent medical problems are also managed efficiently.

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House of Delegates & Annual Scientific Meeting
Innovation & Overcoming Challenges
June 10-15, 2022
Patient Care Is Our Priority

Medical organizations throughout North America understand that our rigorous certification standards prove that ABPS Diplomates are capable of delivering the best patient care possible.

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.

Jerry Allison, MD
Emergency Medicine
When I decided to pursue a full time role as a physician executive it was important to me to obtain additional professional training, education and work experience. Board certification through the ABPS in Administrative Medicine is validation of my efforts and a demonstration of dedication to professional development. We need more physicians to become full time health care executives, knowing there is a board certification option in Administrative Medicine encourages physicians to take the leap from full time clinical practice to healthcare organizational leadership.

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.

Loren Jay Chassels, DO
Internal Medicine