Recruiting Emergency Physicians: Things to Know About the BCEM

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.

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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.

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
When the American Board of Physician Specialties offered to host the American Board of Integrative Medicine, ABPS became a landmark organization working to move medicine into the twenty first century. Certifying physicians who have completed rigorous academic training in Integrative Medicine ensures that the field of Integrative Medicine will continue to develop academically, clinically, and professionally. The leadership of ABPS continues to impress me - they are diligent in constantly innovating to provide certifications for physicians who want to advance their careers and their areas of expertise. I am honored to be a part of this organization.

Ann Marie Chiasson, MD
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.

Chris Kunis MD
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
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