How CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System Established an AAEP-Recognized EM Fellowship

How Christus St. Michael Health System Established an AAEP-Recognized EM Fellowship
Pictured from left, Jeff White – coordinator, Graduate Medical Education & Emergency Medicine Fellowship at CHRISTUS St. Michael; Irwin Bo Price, DO – emergency medicine fellow, 2018-2019 program year; Andrew Jeb Frost, DO – fellowship program director, ER physician at CHRISTUS St. Michael, and Mike Finley, MD – DIO, CHRISTUS Health and chief medical officer, CHRISTUS St. Michael

As is the case with many areas across the country, it had long been difficult for Texarkana, Texas, to recruit residency-trained emergency medicine physicians. Over the years, many locum tenens EM physicians at CHRISTUS ST. Michael Health System would decide not to put down roots in the area. Although talented graduates of the local family medicine residency expressed interest in working in CHRISTUS St. Michael’s emergency department, its size and the acuity of its trauma patients required doctors whose training was not strictly family medicine.

CHRISTUS made exceptions for physicians with EM fellowship training or for family medicine physicians with significant experience in a major trauma center, but it was not enough. With Michael Finley, MD, spearheading the effort, CHRISTUS established its own EM fellowship, a program that essentially allowed it to “homegrow” EM physicians. The first graduate was Irwin Bo Price, DO, and the first two graduates were family medicine residency trained. Since then applications have increased significantly, thanks to recognition from the American Academy of Emergency Physicians (AAEP).

Andrew Jeb Frost, DO, an EM physician at CHRISTUS, modeled the system’s fellowship on the one from which he graduated at the University of Tennessee at Jackson. “My experience at UT was excellent,” he said. “The director and faculty were very knowledgeable and accommodating, and the curriculum was thorough.”

During his fellowship at Jackson Madison County General Hospital, there were always two to four attending physicians working simultaneously, but they weren’t required to see all patients. This arrangement placed the onus for delivering high-quality care on the fellows. But, for its own fellowship program, CHRISTUS wanted more oversight, Dr. Frost said. “At CHRISTUS, we require the attending physician to perform a face-to-face history and physical with every patient. This way we ensure that every encounter our fellows have provides opportunity for direct feedback from the attending physicians.”

Dr. Frost has high praise for Program Coordinator Jeff White, who “continues to find ways to improve our program as well as identify” standards the program needs to meet for AAEP recognition. “Our goal from the beginning was to become an AAEP-approved program, “Dr. Frost said. “Since our recognition we have seen our applications skyrocket.”

Created by the American Association of Physician Specialists, Inc. ® (AAPS) to help meet the urgent demand for board-certified EM physicians, the AAEP gives graduate fellows an eligibility pathway to certification by the Board of Certification in Emergency Medicine (BCEM). The BCEM is the only EM certification board in the nation that offers primary care trained physicians an eligibility pathway.

For more information about AAEP-recognized programs like the one at CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System, contact the American Board of Physician Specialties® (ABPS). The BCEM is a Member Board of the ABPS.

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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
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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.

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Internal Medicine
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Emergency Medicine
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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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