EMRA celebrated its 40th anniversary during ACEP14 in Chicago this October, and we were fortunate to welcome one of our founders, Joe Waeckerle, MD, to participate in our meetings and our fall awards reception and special 40th anniversary celebration (read his speech featured in this month’s EMPower). Honorary membership was presented to Drs. Pam Bensen, Bruce Janiak (the first EM resident), and Greg Henry. Reconnecting with past EMRA leaders was heartwarming, and it was equally impressive to see where EMRA leadership has taken our alumni members.
For residents just beginning careers in emergency medicine, it is easy to take for granted the vast array of career opportunities at our fingertips. If you spoke to a physician practicing in an emergency department 40 years ago, it would have been hard to imagine that now we have not just one, but five, pathways for EM physicians to become board certified in critical care medicine. Critical care is just one example, and as emergency medicine physicians continue to demonstrate their unwavering commitment to patients, our value to the health care system is unquestionable. We interact with virtually all other medical specialties through our day-to-day (and night-to-night) work, and as a result, it is now not uncommon to see EM physicians as leaders in hospitals, health care systems, and beyond.
The 2014 midterm elections saw the successful re-election of two emergency medicine physicians to Congress: Dr. Joe Heck (R-NV) and Dr. Raul Ruiz (D-CA). In 2015, Dr. Steven Stack is set to become the first EM physician to serve as the President of the American Medical Association. Emergency medicine physicians have emerged as leaders in academic medicine, with Dr. Art Kellerman appointed Dean of the Uniformed Services Medical School in 2013 and Dr. John Prescott serving as Chief Academic Officer of the Association of American Medical Colleges as just two examples.
We are fortunate to have such an indomitable cadre of colleagues and leaders in our specialty, as the challenges before us today are no laughing matter. Health disparities continue to affect our patients; increasing medical school tuition and debt weigh heavily on physicians and their families; and the economics of health care proves daily that our current system of delivery and reimbursement is non-sustainable. While daunting, these and other challenges before us have the opportunity to be tackled, thanks in part to the leaders our specialty has helped develop.
Professional hockey player Wayne Gretzky is the leading point scorer in NHL history. When asked to reflect on what made him so successful, Gretzky replied, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” EMRA is working to proactively offer opportunities to our members and remain not just relevant, but essential, to your success. We are constantly reevaluating the benefits and opportunities available to you to ensure they provide the diverse professional and educational opportunities our 13,000 members need to succeed not just today, but for decades of future practice. We are skating to where the puck will be.
I challenge you to be a visionary for our specialty and help EMRA look ahead to the next 40 years. Push us to remain the organization needed for you to succeed not just in today’s health care system, but also position us to prepare our members to thrive in the dynamic health care landscape of tomorrow.