Recruiting Emergency Physicians: Things to Know About the BCEM
The American Board of Physician Specialties® (ABPS) identifies and recognizes physicians who have demonstrated competency in their chosen specialties, including emergency medicine. The Board of Certification in Emergency Medicine ® (BCEM), an ABPS Member Board, has developed rigorous standards to ensure that emergency medicine physicians have the comprehensive training and experience necessary to excel in stressful emergency room environments.
Visits to emergency departments have risen in recent years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ED visits reached a record high of 14.4 million in 2014, and the trend is expected to continue. As ED visits increase, more emergency medicine physicians will be needed to staff hospitals and free-standing emergency departments. Already, many of these organizations are facing daunting recruiting challenges.
Addressing the Shortage of Emergency Medicine Physicians
A new Merritt Hawkins white paper examines today’s recruiting and related trends. Titled “Emergency Medicine: Physician Recruiting, Supply, and Staffing Considerations in Today’s Healthcare System,” the report offers helpful information to health care organizations that are seeking to recruit new physicians. To fully appreciate the scope of the current recruiting challenges, the paper makes the case that it’s instructive to understand the state of emergency medicine today.
One major concern is the aforementioned increase in emergency department visits even as emergency departments in the United States have fallen to their lowest number in 20 years. Compounding the problem, hospitals and other health care facilities have faced a shortage of qualified emergency medicine physicians for several years now, especially in rural areas. According to researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital, even if current board-certified emergency physicians remained in the specialty, it would take 14 years for all EDs to have the number of emergency medicine physicians that patient volume requires.
BCEM Certification Serves to Promote Emergency Medicine Delivery
The BCEM works diligently to mitigate this shortage of physicians with emergency residency training by providing board certification for eligible physicians with extensive ED experience. Certification through the BCEM gives rural and family physicians working in EDs a nationally recognized path to demonstrating their competency to their employers, fellow staffers, and patients. Furthermore, family medicine physicians who participate in emergency medicine graduate training programs approved by the American Association of Physician Specialists, Inc.® (AAPS) meet an eligibility pathway to the BCEM examination. The AAPS is the governing body of the ABPS.
During this shortage of board-certified emergency physicians, health care organizations can stay a step ahead of the competition by hiring doctors certified by the BCEM, thus providing patients with peace of mind that the physicians on staff are qualified to deliver a consistently superior level of emergency care.
Eligibility Requirements of the BCEM
To be eligible to apply for initial board certification in emergency medicine, an applicant 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.
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.
You can find information about dates and fees for the application and the written exam here.
Once granted, all ABPS certificates are good for eight years, expiring on December 31st of the eighth year.
To learn more about the BCEM, or for more information about eligibility requirements, contact the ABPS today.