Are All Freestanding ER Physicians Certified In Emergency Medicine?

Freestanding ERsAs freestanding emergency rooms gain popularity, one valid concern is whether their physicians are qualified to practice emergency medicine. For instance, it’s not uncommon to find freestanding ERs across the country staffed by physicians trained and certified in specialties like family medicine or internal medicine. According to one estimate, as much as 40 percent of emergency department doctors lack certification in EM. While it’s true that many freestanding facilities have experienced ER doctors on staff, hiring experienced physicians who have earned board certification in emergency medicine can lend considerable heft to a freestanding ER’s reputation.

Board of Certification in Emergency Medicine (BCEM)

The American Board of Physician Specialties® (ABPS) offers certification in EM through the Board of Certification in Emergency Medicine (BCEM). By choosing physicians certified in EM, freestanding facilities can distinguish themselves from other organizations. This is because doctors who earn board certification in EM demonstrate mastery of the knowledge and skills required to provide superior emergency care, having met stringent eligibility requirements and passed a rigorous exam developed by Diplomates of the BCEM under the direction of ABPS psychometric consultants.

Why Emergency Medicine Certification Is Important

Freestanding ERs will find their search for qualified candidates simpler when they focus on physicians who are board certified in EM. These professionals possess not only the necessary EM experience but have also undertaken education beyond the specialty’s minimal standards and competency requirements. In terms of knowledge and skills, board certification in EM puts a freestanding ER doctor on par with residency-trained ER specialists. As a further benefit for freestanding ERs, when candidates certified in other specialties achieve EM certification, they can utilize multifaceted skills to effectively treat a range of illnesses and injuries.

Medical institutions can be confident in the credentials of BCEM Diplomates in particular, as these qualified doctors must have completed a minimum of five years and 7,000 hours of emergency department case work, in addition to several hours of continuing medical education. Through a certification process that allows physicians to learn new material about EM, refresh their knowledge of core competencies, and improve their bedside manner and diagnostic approach, the quality of medical care delivered by a freestanding ER is bound to improve.

BCEM Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible to apply for initial certification with BCEM, candidates must satisfy the general requirements of the ABPS. These include being a graduate of a recognized U.S., Canadian, or international allopathic or osteopathic college of medicine, and holding a valid and unrestricted license to practice medicine in the United States, its territories, or Canada. The BCEM has its own eligibility requirements for three certification pathways that include:

  • Completion of an ACGME, AOA, RCPSC, or CFPC-accredited residency in emergency medicine, or
  • Completion of an ACGME, AOA, RCPSC, or CFPC residency in one of the following primary care specialties—family practice, internal medicine, pediatric medicine, or general surgery—and at least five years of full-time emergency medicine experience, or
  • Completion of an accredited residency and a 12- or 24-month emergency medicine fellowship approved by the BCEM

For a list of BCEM-approved fellowships, click here. The ABPS invites qualified physicians who have completed a BCEM-approved fellowship to apply for certification in emergency medicine.

To earn BCEM certification, candidates in all three pathways must pass both a written and oral examination. The computer-based written exam consists of 325 multiple-choice questions. Candidates must pass the written exam to take the oral component.

If you want more information about the BCEM and the benefits that EM board certification offers to freestanding ERs, contact the ABPS today. The ABPS is the official certifying body of the American Association of Physician Specialists, Inc.®

Save the Date
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.

I feel truly blessed and grateful to be an internal medicine board-certified diplomate with the American Board of Physician Specialties. Their ongoing, steadfast commitment to physician board(s) enhancement, forward focused vision, and tenacity is second to none. ABPS has become a recognized choice in Physician Board Certification.

Adam Rench, MD
Internal Medicine
To be the best, you must measure yourself against the best. Achieving Board Certification in Emergency Medicine by the ABPS gave me the opportunity to demonstrate mastery of the art of EM in an objective way. The high bar that ABPS sets for candidates to be allowed to take both the written and oral exam is a testament to ABPS's rigorous vetting of one's ability to practice Emergency Medicine at a high level. By maintaining these credentials, I've been able to instill confidence in my abilities at the department/employer level and ultimately with the patients that choose to seek emergency care at the facilities at which I practice.

Royce Mathew Joseph, MD
Emergency Medicine
The American Board of Physician Specialties has supported the entire field of Integrative Medicine in sponsoring our board. It has been so validating of the importance of prevention-oriented and holistic approaches to care while emphasizing the scientific basis of this specialty to have it recognized by ABPS. I am proud to have been one of the first groups to be board certified by ABPS in Integrative Medicine, leading the way for others committed to training in this specialty.

Myles Spar, MD
Integrative Medicine