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The History of Emergency Medicine

Without the specialty of emergency medicine, it goes without saying, there would be no Emergency Medicine News. When James Mills, MD, and some of his colleagues first ventured into emergency practice in 1961, EMN was still a twinkle in the Herlitz family's eye.

Founded 25 years ago by Steven and Bruce Herlitz, the father-son team that was Herlitz Publications, EMN started as Emergency Department News. Later it experienced a brief incarnation as Emergency Medicine and Ambulatory Care News, before settling on its current name.

The first chairman of the editorial board was David Wagner, MD, the chairman of emergency medicine at MCP Hahnemann University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, who is still a member of EMN's editorial board.

The late William Hanson, MD, also did a stint as chairman of the EMN editorial board, but James R. Roberts, MD, a professor of emergency medicine and toxicology at MCP Hahnemann University School of Medicine and the Drexel University College of Medicine, has served as board chairman for most of the publication's tenure.

It is Dr. Roberts who guided and shaped Emergency Medicine News, taking it from a fledgling publication to the top publication it is today. Without Dr. Roberts' leadership, there is no doubt that EMN would not have attained the no. 1 spot in readership that it holds today and has for nearly the past decade.

But it is also true that EMN owes its success to its loyal readers, not only because they supported its efforts to report news and trends in the specialty - even when the news was disheartening - but because the emergency physicians who read the publication made it their own. It is with a great sense of responsibility that we fill the pages of Emergency Medicine News with news of the specialty; we are always aware of the sacred trust we hold in being the independent voice of our readers.

A history of EMN, then, should be a history of emergency medicine, a specialty born in the 1960s when Americans began to demand better emergency care. The nation's emergency departments - then called emergency rooms - were staffed by a hodgepodge of physicians, mostly interns or residents from other specialties who worked without supervision.

It was in June 1961 that Dr. Mills and his colleagues left private practice in general medicine to staff the emergency room at Alexandria Virginia Hospital, according to the web site of the American College of Emergency Physicians, which honors Dr. Mills with a lecture named for him at each year's Scientific Assembly. These physicians were the first full-time group to provide care exclusively in an ER, a concept referred to as the Alexandria Plan. Other groups followed suit, but for several years, there were no educational or academic training programs in emergency medicine, according to ACEP.

At the first national meeting of emergency physicians in 1968, 32 physicians from 18 states addressed this problem and formed ACEP. Two years later, the University Association for Emergency Medical Services (now the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine) was formed.

In 1971, the first academic departments of emergency medicine were created at the University of Southern California and the University of Louisville, and the first emergency medicine residency program began a year after that at the University of Cincinnati. From 1972 until 1975, 10 new programs were developed, two of the earliest at the University of Chicago and the Medical College of Pennsylvania, according to ACEP.

In 1976, the American Board of Emergency Medicine was incorporated, and on Sept. 21, 1979, ABEM was formally recognized as a specialty board by the American Board of Medical Specialties. Six hundred emergency physicians sat for the first certification examination in February 1980, with the first certification of emergency physicians by ABEM that May.

Since then, the specialty - and EMN - have continued to grow, focused now on refining a specialty that brings care to millions each year. It is with great pleasure and respect that EMN covers the news of emergency medicine. Here's to the next 25 years!

 

Lisa Hoffman
Editor
EMN@lww.com