What Family Medicine Residency Program Directors Should Let Residents Interested in Emergency Medicine Know
There’s no lack of information regarding the contributions of family physicians to our healthcare system, particularly in emergency medicine. Without these professionals, it’s a simple fact that many parts of the country would be without adequate emergency medical care.
The shortage of emergency physicians is especially acute in rural areas, where emergency departments have long relied on the services of doctors trained in family medicine. Like emergency medicine physicians, family doctors are considered generalists who routinely see patients regardless of age, gender, or medical condition. In rural and other underserved areas, where the ER is often the only access to health care, family medicine training makes physicians the nearly ideal emergency services professional, capable of providing a wide spectrum of medical care.
Board of Certification in Emergency Medicine (BCEM)
Unfortunately, family doctors working in ERs are often not granted the same level of professional respect as colleagues with residency training in emergency medicine. To distinguish themselves, family physicians with extensive ER experience seek out certification in emergency medicine with the Board of Certification in Emergency Medicine (BCEM), a Member Board of the nationally recognized American Board of Physician Specialties®. BCEM certification serves as demonstrable proof that a physician has the skills and knowledge to deliver safe and effective emergency care.
The good news for family medicine residents is that they don’t need to also complete an emergency medicine residency to be eligible for BCEM certification. 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.
Emergency Medicine Fellowships for Primary Trained Physicians
An AAEP-recognized program offers a broad scope of training and teaching, such as grand rounds, didactics, and workshops that would be difficult to arrange and support without an educational infrastructure. These fellowship programs also support a larger educational infrastructure, keeping physicians up to date on medical literature and practices.
After completing an AAEP-approved fellowship, primary care physicians are eligible to apply for certification with the Board of Certification in Emergency Medicine® (BCEM). Once candidates are deemed eligible, they must pass both a written and oral examination to earn certification with the BCEM. The computer-based written exam consists of 325 multiple-choice questions. Candidates must pass the written exam in order to take the oral component.
For more information about dates and fees for the application and the written exam, click here.
Once granted, all BCEM certifications are good for eight years, expiring on December 31st of the eighth year.
The process for BCEM certification is rigorous, but when physicians achieve BCEM certification, they:
- Become recognized as qualified emergency medicine physicians, positioning themselves as leaders in the healthcare community and expanding their career opportunities
- Enjoy opportunities to exchange information about clinical experiences and best practices
- Have a meaningful voice as a valued participant in the community
We encourage you to inform your family medicine residents who are interested in emergency medicine about BCEM. If you would like to learn more about the BCEM, contact the ABPS today.