Saturday, May 19, 2007

A Reminder About The Nature Of The Beast

Mission Statement:

Membership in AAEM is open to anyone who supports the following mission statement of the organization.

The American Academy of Emergency Medicine (AAEM) is the specialty society of emergency medicine. AAEM is a democratic organization committed to the following principles:

1. Every individual should have unencumbered access to quality emergency care provided by a specialist in emergency medicine.

2. The practice of emergency medicine is best conducted by a specialist in emergency medicine.

3. A specialist in emergency medicine is a physician who has achieved, through personal dedication and sacrifice, certification by either the American Board of Emergency Medicine (ABEM) or the American Osteopathic Board of Emergency Medicine (AOBEM).

Above is an excerpt from a webpage from the American Academy of Emergency Medicine (AAEM). In case you haven't heard much about them, they have been in business (yes, business, meaning profit-motivated) for over 14 years, and in that time they have managed to establish 4,000 members (one tenth of the emergency physician workforce in America), most of whom were 'press-ganged' with a strange offer of free membership when they were impressionable students in med-school.

AAEM has decided to take on the mantle of defining what exactly is an emergency medicine specialist, much like certain politicians would define a good American, up until recently, as someone who supported the war in Iraq.

The trouble with making such definitions is that you can't fool all of the people all of the time. However, as AAEM has clearly demonstrated, you can fool some of the people all of the time.

AAEM has focused primarily on aiming to artificially reduce the number of emergency medicine specialists (by redefining what that means, and asking legislators to carve the AAEM definitions in Law), for no other reason than to shorten the supply, and thus increase the pay for those lucky few who remain (who also happen to fit with AAEM's definition). I think it is a fair comment to say that such a policy is self-serving, and monopolistic.

AAEM has long argued (with their "it's not the test, it's the training" wailing) that only a physician who has completed an EM residency can be considered an EM specialist. This explained their support for FCEP's annual [failed] bill to outlaw the designation of EM specialist to all those who are not residency trained in EM.

Those who have grandfathered in ABEM would be wise to abandon their loyalty to AAEM, chiefly because you are nothing more than a source of revenue for them. AAEM has no interest in protecting grandfathered ABEM physicians. If they did, then why are you so limited in your employment opportunities? Why do all the ads in AAEM-backed publications advertise for residency-trained emergency physicians? This EXCLUDES the Grandfathered ABEM physicians.

Only ACEP, which has taken the position of protecting the Legacy Emergency Physicians, and USAEM, which welcomes all emergency physicians of whatever cloth, will protect you. AAEM has never taken the initiative to protect those emergency physicians who did not do an EM residency. This includes people like Professor Judith Tintinalli, and the past-president of ACEP, Dr. Rick Blum, amongst many other noted people in our specialty.

I know AAEM has long been considered full of "crazies", and this by rather eminent leaders in EM, but I think it's high time we put these so-called "crazies" back into the correct observational wing from whence they came. AAEM's recent president, played war games with American Emergency Medicine, and then went off home to Lebanon, to start a residency program! LAEM is now courting the Europeans with their Sorrento conference in Italy, while at the same time maligning other European trained emergency physicians (yes, me). Hypocrisy? Well I think it's time this was exposed.

In an act of desperation (momentary glimpse of reality?), AAEM recently offered to merge with ACEP recently, in what they called the 'unity proposal'. Wisely, ACEP rejected such a proposal. Now AAEM is suddenly announcing (EP Monthly, April, page 3) that it will overtake ACEP in membership numbers. Hot air? Bitterness? Does it matter? What matters is that we can ignore the 'crazies' and the 'fascists', imagining they are just a curiosity, but if we don't expose them for the frauds that they are, they may just 'get lucky' and get some unsuspecting legislature to pass one of its crazy bills! Even MedScape has been fooled into believing that AAEM is the foremost voice for emergency physicians! Who next?

What is important is the patient, and your ability to care for them. It is very important that you forward this email to all AAEM members who you think may have been duped into membership with an organization that doesn't really support them.

Fortunately, the Institute of Medicine declared that core competencies are more important for the designation of emergency medicine specialist, and not board certification. The IOM's statement was in direct opposition to the AAEM definition.

Who are you going to believe? The IOM or AAEM?

Why am I writing this letter? Because I have had direct communication with AAEM leaders and their words are very telling. When asked whether there was any place for prejudice or discrimination amongst professionals in emergency medicine, I was stunned that I didn't get a simply "No". Instead, I received a convoluted answer involving some incomprehensible condition that ABEM approved. So AAEM's morals are entirely dependent on what is convenient to them, it seems.

Leave AAEM. Advise your friends to leave AAEM. Join ACEP. Join USAEM. Do the right thing for America. Be part of the solution. Don't be part of the problem. We need to stop the problem.

Thanks for reading,

Just a regular 'emergency physician specialist'.

1 comment:

Mark Ko said...

Thank for this info!