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Letter to the Editor

A Field with a Dramatic Workforce

Emergency Medicine News: May 2019 - Volume 41 - Issue 5 - p 30
doi: 10.1097/01.EEM.0000558211.82702.5c
Letter to the Editor

Editor:

Eric Blazar, MD, provided an important perspective on EM residency numbers. (“Emergency Medicine Doesn't Need More Residencies,” EMN 2019;41[2]:6; http://bit.ly/2UET63Y.)

I agree with his underlying sentiment that we should critically ask if continually increasing emergency medicine residency positions benefits our specialty and our patients. At a time when an increasing number of ED patients are seen by advanced practice providers and our ED volumes have been relatively flat, common sense does beckon one to consider if the current trajectory of EM residency training numbers will turn out to harm individuals who choose EM as a career. One important clarification, however, is that some of the increased number of residency slots noted in this article come from American Osteopathic Association EM programs now operating under the ACGME. This has been happening over the past few years and is supposed to be complete by 2020. In other words, the number of active AOA EM programs has gone down significantly, and the increased ACGME numbers noted here partly resulted from the shift of these programs over to the ACGME.

With that said, we are still in a field that has experienced dramatic workforce growth. Between 2000 and 2010, the number of EPs increased by 44.6 percent, more than any other specialty. (J Emerg Med 2016;50[4]:690; http://bit.ly/2IGH1dx.) The national ED volumes noted by the CDC were static from 2011 to 2015. Given this, we should be thinking critically about the stability of our specialty if rapid residency growth were to continue.

Christopher Thom, MD

Charlottesville, VA

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