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Jul 25, 2003
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I'm a little confused as to the roles of these three groups.

I'm a student member of all three (so I really should know this stuff, but I don't).

From what I can gather it breaks down like this

SAEM: like the title says, emphasis on academic work, seems to be fairly student friendly. However from what I can tell, it is better to be published in Annals or JEM than in AEM. Seems a little funny that the "academic" journal has this reputation

AAEM: seems to me to be more politically acitve. I also seem to recall reading some stuff that they're pretty opposed to corprate emergency medicne and moonlighting. Also seem to be somewhat compteing with ACEP as "governing body" for EM

ACEP: If I'm remembering correctly, this is the oldest organization, and the current "governing body". Publishes Annals of EM, also has EMRA.

What I'm looking for is either confirmation or clarification on the roles of these professional organizations. I'm somewhat interested in running for a resident position is a national group, but want to find the one that best fits my interests.

I know I can track down the mission statements from their websites, but I'm more interested in what the typical EP thinks about these groups.


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In a nutshell, you're pretty close to accurate. ACEP/EMRA are the big dogs, and probably always will.

Quotes from their individual websites:

The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP)
exists to support quality emergency medical care, and to promote the interests of emergency physicians.

The Board of Directors has identified values that serve as the guiding principles for the specialty of emergency medicine. These values, and the objectives that follow, are the foundation of ACEP's planning processes and Council and Board actions.

The values of the American College of Emergency Physicians are:

Quality emergency care is a fundamental right and unobstructed access to emergency services should be available to all patients who perceive the need for emergency services.
There is a body of knowledge unique to emergency medicine that requires continuing refinement and development.
Physicians entering the practice of emergency medicine should be residency trained in emergency medicine.
Quality emergency medicine is best practiced by qualified, credentialed emergency physicians.
The best interests of patients are served when emergency physicians practice in a fair, equitable, and supportive environment.
Emergency physicians have the responsibility to play the lead roles in the definition, management, evaluation, and improvement of quality emergency care.

Join the Recognized Leader in Emergency Medicine
The American College of Emergency Physicians was founded in 1968. Today we represent more than 22,000 members and are the emergency medicine specialty society recognized by organized medicine. We have 53 chapters to represent you at the local level, plus 25 sections of membership to represent your special interests.


The American Academy of Emergency Medicine is the specialty society of Emergency Medicine with 4,000 members.

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

AAEM is a democratic organization committed to the following principles:

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

The practice of Emergency Medicine is best conducted by a specialist in Emergency Medicine.

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).

The personal and professional welfare of the individual specialist in Emergency Medicine is a primary concern to AAEM.

AAEM supports fair and equitable practice environments necessary to allow the specialist in Emergency Medicine to deliver the highest quality of patient care. Such an environment includes provisions for due process and the absence of restrictive covenants.

AAEM supports the growth of residency programs and graduate medical education, which are essential to the continued enrichment of Emergency Medicine, and to ensure a high quality of care for the patient.

As far as AAEM's positions on moonlighting and such, see their position statements at the following link:
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AAEM (Robert McNamara, MD FAAEM ) says this about the ACEP mission statement above.

It was a seven year struggle to have our mission statement adopted by others. The realization of our vision statement promises to be equally difficult as we will battle over control and money with those who are currently firmly interwoven into the fabric of EM. It will be up to AAEM to lead as we are the only group untainted by corporate ties. Your membership and efforts to recruit your colleagues is vital. I?d like to be able to look around seven years from now and see a job market full of partnership opportunities for our residents. I?d also like to see a day where all EM organizations proudly say they facilitate, nurture and defend physician ownership of EM practice. Thanks for your support in helping AAEM reform the specialty.

Essentially: ACEP is the big dog which worries about lots of important things in EM. AAEM is the radical little dog which worries about a few important things in EM, specifically, our job security and fairness in the market place. By keeping AAEM around, we will be able to keep the big dog honest, and hopefully reform it. The mission statements above look very similar, but they were not always so. It is only due to the schism caused by the founders of AAEM that ACEP has pulled its head out and realized that many of the issues AAEM addresses are important to EPs. I intend to be a member of both groups, at least until ACEP adopts a lot of AAEM positions.
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I also found this while searching the web:

The American Academy of Emergency Medicine (AAEM) began in 1992 when 2 emergency physicians, Jim Keaney and Scott Plantz, met in a coffee shop in San Francisco. Keaney had recently written and anonymously published The Rape of Emergency Medicine: A Novel by the Phoenix, a fictionalized recounting of his many years working for multihospital emergency department contract management groups. This irreverent, humorous, and thought-provoking look at the inner workings of contract management groups and their often less-than-acceptable medical practices, as well as their questionable business practices, was beginning to create a stir in emergency medicine circles and beyond.

Many experienced emergency physicians had encountered or were aware of substandard medical care rendered by physicians employed by contract management groups. In some instances, physicians with little training in emergency medicine were hired to staff emergency departments to keep costs down and maximize profits. Physicians with lesser credentials and little or no formal residency training were willing to provide emergency department coverage at a lower cost.

Many emergency physicians were frustrated by the behavior of some large contract management groups. Some companies employed aggressive business practices to take over emergency department contracts, often forcing the emergency physicians into looking for work elsewhere or into remaining and losing control of certain aspects of their prior practices.

Over Thanksgiving weekend in 1993, Dr Keaney appeared on 60 Minutes and spoke candidly regarding the alarming situations he had experienced as a practicing emergency physician. For the first time, career emergency physicians had their concerns heard in a national forum. Of course, the book outraged many of those who represented the status quo in emergency medicine, particularly the contract management groups and sole proprietors who had not been treating their emergency physicians well. Keaney's references to the "suits" (businesspersons in the specialty) and the "scrubs" (practicing emergency physicians) had drawn a line in the sand for the first time. One of the most far-reaching dialogues ever concerning the specialty finally had begun in earnest.

When Keaney's identity as "the Phoenix" became known, emergency physicians contacted him to discuss certain issues (eg, termination without due process, contractual clauses with onerous restrictive covenants, excessive overhead taken from physicians' professional fees by contract management groups). A small group of these committed physicians met in Las Vegas in 1993. Over 2 large pizzas in a restaurant at the Excalibur Casino, they wrote the mission statement for AAEM. From this humble start, the academy has grown exponentially in just 11 years to include about 4000 members.

AAEM members passionately believe that emergency patients should have unencumbered access to a specialist working in a fair and equitable practice environment. The continued growth of AAEM has led to the development of state chapters; this secondary organizational phase allows members to exert influence and promote positive change at the state and local levels.
In answer to your question (I think), if you are looking to become an active (i.e. serving on a board or committee) resident member of a group, there really is only 1 choice: EMRA.

AAEM does have a resident section which has a few members. EMRA on the other hand represents <75% of all EM residents. In fact, get this, they are they oldest resident organization of ANY speciality. They set the standard not only for EM but for medicine in general.

While AAEM's intentions may be good, I feel that at this point its main focus is to continue arguements and dissention amoung the small world of EM. When their energy could be focused on malpractice reform and overcrowding, they instead are yelling at the top of their lungs that there is only one way to organize professional EPs. This is infact 100% incorrect.

I am always amazed when someone is so adament that their idea is THE answer and there can be no other possible solutions. This is the first sign that someone is wrong. And such is AAEM. I would be careful being too closely aligned with AAEM as you will be tagged as one of the "defensive, arguementative" docs.

ACEP is the standard. Can improvements be made? Of course, but that is what membership and reform is for. Is the US Constitution concrete or is it amendable?

Honestly, I get so tired of all the politics in EM and wish everyone's energy went into furthering the specialty and medical education.
Holy crap. Serious zombie post. Where did you find this one?
It's around quarter to 4 here on the east coast, and your post says "today at 10:59am" (which I believe the website converts to my time - you posted at 0859 MST), and the post is gone. It looks like someone moderated, or a spammer was removed. Or something.