Facts About ACEP and Emergency Medicine

The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) is the oldest and largest national medical specialty organization representing physicians who practice emergency medicine. With more than 32,000 members, ACEP is the leading continuing education source for emergency physicians and the primary information resource on developments in the specialty.

Founded in 1968, ACEP achieved a major milestone in 1979 when emergency medicine was recognized as the nation's 23rd medical specialty by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). The independent certifying body for the specialty, the American Board of Emergency Medicine was installed at that time as a member of the ABMS.

The College continually monitors trends in the health care environment and analyzes issues affecting emergency physicians and their patients.

Statement of Values

Through continuing professional education, patient advocacy at all levels, public information and research, ACEP strives to uphold these values:

  • Quality emergency care is a fundamental individual right and should be available to all who seek it.
  • There is a body of knowledge unique to emergency medicine that requires continuing refinement and development.
  • Quality emergency medicine is best practiced by qualified, credentialed emergency physicians.
  • The best interests of the patient are served when emergency physicians practice in a fair, equitable, and supportive environment.
  • The emergency physician has the responsibility to play the lead role in the definition, evaluation and improvement of quality emergency care.

The College is governed by an elected Board of Directors, which functions similarly to a corporation's board. The College's Board works in conjunction with the ACEP Council. The Council is a body composed of emergency physicians who directly represent the 53 charter chapters of ACEP, the College's Sections of Membership and the Emergency Medicine Residents' Association. Each chartered chapter is independently governed by its own elected Board of Directors.

Continuing Medical Education

Emergency physicians must maintain and continually update their knowledge of the changing field of emergency medicine. All active members of ACEP are required to complete 150 hours of continuing medical education every three years. At least 60 of those hours must be approved by the College as providing education relevant to emergency physicians. To facilitate this requirement, ACEP sponsors numerous courses providing in-depth clinical and practice management information designed specifically for emergency physicians.

The College also sponsors the specialty's Scientific Assembly, the nation's largest meeting of emergency physicians. This four-day annual event is an intensive educational forum for physicians, nurses and ancillary emergency health care practitioners. It encompasses more than 350 hours of clinical and management courses at the basic, intermediate and advanced levels. In addition, approximately 350 companies exhibit at the Assembly.

A homestudy series developed by the College offers physicians the opportunity to complete selected topics at their own pace. ACEP also provides a self-assessment examination in emergency medicine as an aid in determining physicians' future continuing medical education needs.

Public Affairs and the Washington Office

The Public Affairs Department, located in Washington, D.C., advocates for public policy positions that advance the interests of emergency physicians and their patients. In addition, the department also works with other health care organizations and the news media to increase the public's understanding and awareness of the specialty of emergency medicine, providing valuable information on public health issues, injury prevention, and safety guidelines. The Public Affairs staff also represents the College before the U.S. Congress and with the other agencies of the federal government and the White House.


ACEP offers an extensive selection of books, manuals and serials for emergency medicine professionals on subjects ranging from management issues to clinical information.

The specialty's leading clinical journal, Annals of Emergency Medicine, is published monthly by ACEP. Original research, clinical reports, case studies, practical methods and techniques, and opinions about emergency medicine are featured in this highly regarded medical journal.

ACEP News, published 11 times per year, provides up-to-the-minute information on the practice environment, health system reform issues, College activities and other topics of interest to ACEP members. During Scientific Assembly each year, On Line, the convention's daily newspaper, keeps conference attendees informed on Assembly highlights, daily activities and late-breaking daily news. A fourth edition of On Line is mailed to all members direct from the convention site and substitutes for ACEP News for the month of the convention.


The Emergency Medicine Foundation was created by ACEP in 1973 as a means of providing emergency medicine with a strong, ongoing educational and research base. EMF has since evolved into the only national organization with a mission solely focused on emergency medicine research. The Foundation works in partnership with America's leading researchers and research institutions to provide patient-centered research in emergency medicine.

The success of the partnership is exemplified by the continued commitment of concerned emergency physicians, individuals, corporations and foundations making charitable gifts to support research projects dedicated to improving patients' health and quality of life.

Since beginning the partnership, the Emergency Medicine Foundation has distributed grants in excess of $6 million to men and women across the country working to increase the body of knowledge in emergency medicine. EMF grant programs provide funding for investigators ranging from medical students through emergency medicine teaching faculty.

Historical Profile
August 16, 1968 ACEP formed
November 19-21, 1969 First Scientific Assembly (Denver)
July 1970 First emergency medicine residency program (University of Cincinnati)
January 1972 Premier issue of JACEP (which became Annals of Emergency Medicine in 1980)
November 3-10, 1974 National EMS Week proclaimed by President Gerald Ford
December 1975   AMA House of Delegates approves permanent Section on Emergency Medicine and standards for emergency medicine residencies
June 1976 American Board of Emergency Medicine formed
September 1977 ACEP authorized by AMA as accrediting organization for continuing medical education
September 21, 1979 Emergency medicine recognized as medical specialty by American Board of Medical Specialties and AMA
May 1980 First certification of emergency physicians by American Board of Emergency Medicine
February 1982 Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education approves special requirements for emergency medicine residency training programs (requirements effective March 1982)
August 1989   First section of membership approved by the Board of Directors
September 21, 1989 American Board of Emergency Medicine status change from conjoint (modified) board to a primary board approved by American Board of Medical Specialties
October 1989 First annual Teaching Fellowship program
1993 ACEP celebrates 25th Anniversary

1973 - 2002
1973 65,858 734 ----%
1974 71,033,863 7.86%
1975 73,448,051 3.40%
1976 76,674,145 4.39%
1977 77,633,640 1.25%
1978 82,871,521 6.75%
1979 81,244,699 -1.96%
1980 82,018,450 0.95%
1981 83,024,984 1.23%
1982 81,147,512 -2.26%
1983 77,522,259 -4.47%
1984 78,492,455 1.25%
1985 80,079,345 2.02%
1986 82,117,221 2.54%
1987 83,478,208 1.66%
1988 86,641,305 3.79%
1989 89,730,589 3.57%
1990 92,080,647 2.55%
1991 93,469,930 1.51%
1992 95,817,758 2.51%
1993 97,379,119 1.63%
1994 96,014,347 -1.40%
1995 99,911,108 4.06%
1996 97,552,005 -2.36%
1997 97,427,807 -1.27%
1998 99,007,277 1.62%
1999 103,784,425 4.83%
2000 106,937,286 3.04%
2001 109,838,319 2.71%
2002 114,207,460 3.98%
Emergency Department is defined as an organized hospital facility for the provision of unscheduled outpatient services to patients whose conditions are considered to require immediate care. The Emergency Department must be staffed 24 hours a day.

SOURCE: American Hospital Association,
Hospital Statistics, 1974 through 2004 editions.

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