Family Physicians are Vital to Emergency Medicine
There’s no denying that the medical specialties of Family Medicine and Emergency Medicine are intrinsically linked. In fact, when Emergency Medicine first became officially recognized as a specialty in the late 1970s, many of the physicians who worked to first develop the then-emerging field were family physicians by training. The relationship is intuitive in many ways when you consider the inherent overlap between the core concepts of the two multi-disciplinary specialties. Both family physicians and emergency department physicians see patients of all ages, and need to have the broad skillset required to deliver optimal healthcare services to their diverse patient base.
For this reason, many emergency departments throughout the country – particularly in rural communities where doctors with residency training in Emergency Medicine are not always available – are staffed by Family Medicine-trained physicians. Yet, the problem that many of these highly qualified physicians face is that healthcare organizations are increasingly requiring board certification as a prerequisite for employment or career advancement – board certification in Emergency Medicine that family physicians have not been traditionally qualified to pursue. This is happening when about 45% of the nation’s emergency department workforce has not completed a residency in emergency medicine.
The original intended relationship between these two specialties was clearly explained in an October 2016 Viewpoint article published in Emergency Medicine News. Early dialogue among leaders “envisioned extensive cooperative efforts in our training programs … post-graduate efforts … legislative efforts, and residency preparation, acceptable to both family practice and to emergency medicine.” This intended relationship would not only benefit physician specialists in both areas of expertise but also help ensure the highest quality of care for patients in community emergency rooms.
A Pathway for Family Medicine Doctors to Earn EM Board Certification
Sadly, family doctors working in emergency rooms are often not granted the same level of professional respect as colleagues with residency training in emergency medicine. But at the Board of Certification in Emergency Medicine® (BCEM), a Member Board of the American Board of Physician Specialties® (ABPS), we recognize that family physicians serve a vital role in emergency medicine. We believe that emergency room experience and proficiency are invaluable in preserving our nation’s emergency care safety net. And, as the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) states, “Specialty certification alone should not prevent family physicians from practicing in any emergency setting or trauma center at any level.”
That’s why the BCEM offers an opportunity for highly qualified, highly experienced primary care-trained EM physicians the chance to demonstrate their mastery of EM at a time when board certification in the specialty that physicians practice has become very important to hospitals and other employers.
Family medicine doctors with a minimum of five years and 7,000 hours of ER casework are eligible to apply with the BCEM, as are family physicians who have completed graduate training in an emergency medicine fellowship approved by the American Academy of Emergency Physicians (AAEP). Fellowships recognized by the AAEP meet the high training standards that allow physicians to demonstrate mastery in emergency medicine through BCEM certification.
The Benefits of BCEM Certification
BCEM certification is highly competitive, but family physicians who satisfy its eligibility requirements and pass the stringent certification testing will come away with a verifiable record that they have the knowledge and expertise to provide exceptional emergency care in virtually any setting, whether urban or rural. What’s more, BCEM certification indicates that they are ethical practitioners, as all Diplomates must show adherence to the ABPS Medical Code of Ethics. Ultimately, BCEM certification recognizes physicians as eminently qualified EM professionals, positions them as leaders in the healthcare community, and broadens their opportunities for career advancement.
To learn about how the BCEM supports family physicians and offers a unique opportunity in Emergency Medicine to those who have spent substantial time working in an emergency department, contact us today.