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American Academy of Emergency Medicine

Definition of Emergency Physician

July 26, 2011

Contact: Kay Whalen (kwhalen@aaem.org)
Executive Director, AAEM
Phone: 800-884-2236

Janet Wilson (jwilson@aaem.org)
Associate Executive Director, AAEM
Phone: 800-884-2236

MILWAUKEE – The American Academy of Emergency Medicine Releases its Definition of Emergency Physician.
The American Academy of Emergency Medicine (AAEM) board of directors approved its definition of
“emergency physician” on July 11, 2011. AAEM defines an “emergency physician” as someone who
has either completed an accredited training program in Emergency Medicine, or is certified in
Emergency Medicine by a recognized certifying body.

In the U.S., legitimate emergency medicine training is accredited by the ACGME RRC-EM, or the AOA
COPT-EM. The only recognized emergency medicine certifying bodies in the U.S. are ABEM or AOBEM.
In the case of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, the ABP is also included.

Countries other than the U.S. should define the legitimate training approval and certification process
for their nation. Further, nothing in this definition is intended to exclude those pioneering physicians
around the world who have or are advancing the specialty of emergency in their countries by starting
practice in a reasonable establishment phase during which formal training is not widely available. This
establishment phase ended long ago in the U.S.

AAEM firmly opposes referring to any physician who works in the Emergency Department as an
“emergency physician.” Emergency medicine has consistently maintained that it is defined by its
unique body of knowledge, not the site of practice. Referring to any physician who has not been
formally educated in the unique body of knowledge that is emergency medicine as an emergency
physician is a misrepresentation of their credentials.

There is a significant shortage of emergency physicians in the U.S. This workforce problem can only be
solved by correctly categorizing the ED workforce into emergency physicians and non-emergency
physicians. If a physician of another specialty background is practicing in an ED, they should represent
themselves, and be represented, to the public as “(other specialty physician) providing emergency
care.”

Please note that AAEM is not applying this definition to other countries and encourages other countries to
define legitimate training approval and certification process for their nation.

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The American Academy of Emergency Medicine (AAEM) is the specialty society in emergency medicine
today. As an organization, AAEM believes achievement of board certification represents the
only acceptable method of attaining recognition as a specialist in emergency medicine.

For more information, please visit www.aaem.org or call 800-884-2236.