Common Sense

The State of the Academy: It’s GREAT

Issue: July/August 2021

Author: Lisa A. Moreno, MD MS MSCR FAAEM FIFEM
President, AAEM

When you read this, you will have returned, physically or virtually, from what I believe (writing this in early June) is going to be the most fantastic post-isolation reunion of emergency physicians. AAEM will have hosted the first in-person meeting in EM since March 2020. The date change was a calculated risk, consulting with virologists, immunologists, epidemiologists, and government officials on the local, state, and federal levels to assess the likelihood that June would be a safe month to hold a conference. The date change and the decision to go live resulted in a restructuring of the SA planning subcommittee and revamping by the staff of all the plans made earlier, adaptation to a hybrid model that AAEM had never previously used for a conference, and close communication with the CDC and the city of St. Louis. As regulations changed weekly, we changed our implementation plans. But this is who we are: RESILIENT, COLLABORATIVE, ADAPTIVE. These words characterize emergency physicians, and our best qualities are best exemplified by AAEM. The State of the Academy is GREAT!

The committees, sections, chapter divisions, and interest groups are the lifeblood of the Academy and our main source of member engagement. You all outperformed and overachieved in the year of COVID. AAEM members did not hibernate; they produced.

The Clinical Practice Committee developed two new policy statements: How Should Native Crotalid Envenomation Be Managed in the Emergency Department? and Do patients on Direct Oral Anticoagulants (DOACs) require repeat imaging and a period of observation after a head injury with an initial negative CT? The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee is hard at work to support the diversification of our membership. They developed a “Bring a Black Physician to SA” campaign, and have sponsored a few SA events. Plenary Speaker Glenn Singleton spoke on “Courageous Conversations about Race in Emergency Medicine,” a social was held at BBs Jazz, Blues, and Soups, and a cultural tour of the Scott Joplin Historical Site was also held. DEI did a Black History Month Twitter campaign and is beginning work on a grant funded video podcast series, “Physicians of Color who Have Done Great Things.” The first physician you should know whose segment will be filmed at the end of June is Dr. Marcus Martin. The Education Committee took the lead on creating an innovative AAEM21 that upholds the standards of AAEM under difficult and stressful circumstances. They were also responsible for a rapid and complete transition of the Written Board Review Course to a virtual format, which was offered FREE to all AAEM members through Dec 31, 2021. They created and implemented a Virtual Oral Board Course to parallel what ABEM is using. Six cases and two Structured Interviews. By May 5th, they completed six one day courses and are already started the planning for six courses in the fall. Our new Ethics Committee issued a Principles of Ethics Joint position statement with Geriatrics and Palliative Care as well as a position statement on the ethical physician. The LMS Committee did a needs assessment of our learning community in the pandemic environment and undertook a data analysis of current user practices to guide identification and development of new materials. They developed an application to streamline the new material approval and posting process. This has resulted in a collection of great online CME opportunities for AAEM members. Check them out and think about what your committee, section, chapter division, or IG can create to share with our AAEM community! Pain and Addiction moved from IG to committee status and published a broad, comprehensive, authoritative white paper on the management of opioid use disorder in the ED. Social Media reviewed current podcast offerings and analytics and offered expertise and support to other committees creating enduring materials. They also created the AAEM Instagram account. Wellness did a Stories from the Pandemic Storytelling Live Event encompassing a global audience including storytellers from Sweden and Turkey, developed the Dr. Lorna Breen Position Statement, and the Interruptions in the ED Position Statement. Palliative Care updated their webpage with COVID-specific resources for advance care planning discussions in the ED, established a portal for sharing of pandemic narratives, and makes regular contributions to Common Sense’s Palliative Corner. An ED Observation IG is seeking members. Social EM and Population Health is applying for committee status! They have a great group of members from medical students to senior attendings, have a standing column in Common Sense, and are creating curriculum for the non-profit Foundations of Emergency Medicine on patients experiencing homelessness and patients impacted by gun violence. This curriculum will be utilized by thousands of EM residents in the U.S. and abroad. They are developing a border health research project.

Among our sections: Critical Care has a new novel event called the CCMS Salon, which has the reverse structure of a journal club. Each salon covers a single topic with controversial or limited literature with the goal of practical, bedside-oriented conclusions and aids such as a sample protocol. Their goal is to stir the pot! They started a quarterly newsletter with practical practice tips, EM and intensivist perspectives, and even a light-hearted cartoon section. Their inaugural mentor/mentee group is a great success! EMS completed a survey to assess needs of members and are working out an MOU with National Association of EMS Physicians. They have a clinical practice subgroup at work on a paper addressing Ketamine use in the prehospital setting. Emergency Ultrasound developed what has become the legendary ‘Unmute Your Probe’ virtual ultrasound series. They are developing the Ultrasound Skills Verification Program. Women in EM developed mentoring pairs as well as the Poster Pearls Series- A interview CME featuring members who submitted photo competition posters, and the Virtual Mentoring Sessions for Osteopathic Medical Students, focused on assisting IMGs and osteopaths aspiring to EM careers. Young Physicians created “Where are the jobs?” a post-pandemic world webinar event, set up an Instagram account, and revamped their mentor program.

Among our chapters divisions, California hosted the Zoom-based Golden State Symposium, a Medical Student Symposium, and they launched Quarantini, a quarterly event for socializing, discussions, and education. A new Capital Region Chapter Division was launched for members in Virginia, Maryland, and DC. Delaware Valley hosted a successful chapter division conference geared towards the area residents. Great Lakes re-started their newsletter and advocated for changing language in the Minnesota licensure application. India worked with an India-based non-profit to secure resources for the development of EM in that country. Under their all-female board, Louisiana led the defeat of PA and NP independent practice bills and did a Statewide Coordinated Residency Education Day. Lebanon led the country though the Beirut Blast and is holding a strong EM presence despite political and economic upheaval. The Mediterranean Chapter Division is working closely with AAEM leadership to put on another great MEMC in Malta this year. New York awarded the first ever NYAAEM Research Scholarship which is dedicated to support research that combats systemic racism, prejudice, violence, and inequality against people of color within emergency medicine or within their community. This award was given to Dr. Sowmya Sanapala for her work with the Bangladesh community in the Bronx. They put on “EM for IMGs - How to Navigate the Challenges” forum. Tennessee continues to be a top advocacy chapter division, working on balance billing and contributing to the creation of the federal legislation that became law as the No Surprises Act. Members engaged Governor Bill Lee about the importance of masking and promoted it on news media. Texas will hold its first ever chapter division conference this fall with a great line up of speakers. A southeast chapter division is in the works. 

During my first year as president, I held 71 meetings with the leaders of chapter divisions, IGs, committees and sections. From these meetings, there were 296 initiatives/ideas generated. One hundred and two of those initiatives have been completed and 135 are in progress. We issued 21 position and policy statements and letters to government officials on issues impacting our practice environment and the safety of our patients. We gave 15 interviews to news media and made 11 residency visits. We expanded the Leadership Academy to a yearlong program attended by 89 emerging leaders who attended our full day session and two Touch Back Sessions on the Job Market Landscape and Legislation and Advocacy. A Wellness and Social Justice Touch Back will take place in October. Our Leadership Academy attendees are already assuming leadership roles in Academy committees and sections. We hosted six virtual meetings and three Town Halls on issues urgent and critical to today’s practice of EM. We launched MyAAEM, an online platform where AAEM members can collaborate with other committee members, council members, board members, interest group members, section members, and chapter division members.

AAEM continued to represent on coalitions and committees working with ABEM to continue to improve the certification and lifelong learning process, with COOMB to eliminate merit badge requirements, with three ABEM Working Groups, the Sickle Cell Coalition, the ACGME TF on Protected Time, the AMA Rules Committee, National Association of State EMS Officials, and the SAEM Guidelines Committee. Dr. Farcy continues his Critical Care in EM Podcast series, and I appeared in the DEI Shift Podcast episode on LGBTQ Health. Our journal, Journal of Emergency Medicine, has monthly educational podcasts. AAEM/RSA put out a series of podcasts, and WiEM put out the Women’s Wisdom Series. AAEM cosponsored 20 COVIDrelated webinars led by ACMT, while EUS put out the Unmute Your Probe Series and CCMS produced “COVID from the ED to the ICU: Do we have a crystal ball?,” “An Open, Expert Panel Discussion on Palliative Care in the ED and ICU in the Era of COVID,” and “Any Fluid You Can Give, I Can Give Better.” WiEM produced a webinar series and AAEM/RSA put out “Ask Me Anything.” 

While the world was binging on Netflix and trying to find things to do, Academy members were hard at work. We came home from the shifts where we treated and intubated COVID patients, put bacitracin on the open wounds left on our faces by 12 hours in an N-95 and, in isolation from our families and loved ones, created podcasts and webinars to educate and support our colleagues, lobbied legislators to champion our specialty and our patients, cried over the deaths of the patients and colleagues we could not save, supported residents and students crushed by the shrinking job market and the isolation of the pandemic, did research and published papers on best practices, and attended hundreds of hours of zoom to teach and learn from each other, only to pick ourselves up and face another day or night shift. We have learned that we are resilient and strong, and we have also learned that we must care for ourselves and each other. In our isolation, we found community. AND WE DID A LOT!! Thank you for being part of a very good year for AAEM. And as you read through the tremendous accomplishments of our AAEM community, take another look and find something new that interests you. We need and want your unique talents and contributions. We are excited by the prospect of another wonderful year, of welcoming new members, of engaging old members, and by all becoming wiser and stronger through the work of our community.

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