How EM Certification Benefits Both Physicians and Rural Hospitals

How EM Certification Benefits Both Physicians and Rural HospitalsThe shortage of qualified emergency medicine physicians remains acute, particularly in rural areas. The fact that more hospitals are prioritizing hiring board certified physicians only compounds the problem. But at the American Board of Physician Specialties® (ABPS), we believe that if the benefits of physician board certification were more widely appreciated, the medical community would make significant inroads into reversing this years-long shortage.

In a 2016 blog entry titled “Taking the Leap from Family Medicine to Rural Emergency Medicine,” ABPS Diplomate George Belkowski, MD, said: “The need for emergency medicine physicians to fill roles in rural hospitals has never been greater. The benefits are numerous and the challenges are manageable.”

BCEM Certification Helps Improve Emergency Care in Rural Areas

Let’s start with the challenges. EM physicians in rural areas often work in understaffed hospitals, where, in order to meet their community’s needs, they must work in high-volume, high-risk emergency departments. Even when rural EM practitioners treat fewer patients than they would in an urban hospital, they typically have fewer resources to call upon. As Dr. Belkowski explained, in rural hospitals, your resources to gain experience are essentially limited to colleagues in your specialty. If you are a non-residency trained EM physician, though, you face yet another challenge, regardless of where you practice – the strong likelihood that, despite your qualifications and proven skills, you will be denied career opportunities because you lack board certification in EM.

This is highly unfortunate as it also robs hospitals of the chance to utilize the expertise that these EM physicians offer. After all, career EM physicians show, day in, day out, that they are quick thinkers who have the calm demeanor to deliver critical care in a stressful emergency room environment.

That’s why, in an effort to improve emergency care across the nation, the ABPS proudly offers board certification in EM. When physicians earn certification through our Member Board, the Board of Certification in Emergency Medicine (BCEM), they demonstrate that they are eminently qualified to practice their specialty at the highest level. Through performance and the rigorous testing required to earn BCEM certification, physicians not only become more marketable to potential employers, they also demonstrate their competency to colleagues and patients alike.

Therein lies the benefits of BCEM certification to rural hospitals. As a mark of medical distinction, BCEM certification inspires the trust of patients, which then enhances a hospital’s reputation. Understandably, rural hospital managers would be well-served to emphasize hiring respected practitioners, such as BCEM Diplomates, who can heighten their facility’s prestige by giving patients the medical care they deserve.

Eligibility Requirements of the BCEM

To be a candidate for board certification in Emergency Medicine, a physician must first satisfy the general requirements of the ABPS. These include being a graduate of a recognized U.S. or Canadian 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 Board of Certification in Emergency Medicine (BCEM) has its own eligibility requirements 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 5 years AND 7,000 hours of full-time emergency medicine experience, or
  • Completion of an accredited residency in one of the following specialties—family practice, internal medicine, pediatric medicine, or general surgery—and a 12- or 24-month emergency medicine fellowship approved by the AAEP.

All three pathways require passing both a written and oral examination to attain BCEM certification. The written exam consists of 325 multiple-choice questions and is computer-based. Candidates must pass the written exam to be eligible for the oral examination.

You can find information about dates and fees for the application and the written exam here.

If you are a career EM physician considering pursuing board certification, or if you are a rural hospital manager who would like more information about the BCEM, contact the ABPS today.

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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.

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
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