September 20, 2021

Letter from the Chair

by Dr. Debbie Fletcher

Greetings Workforce!

First of all, thank you for all that you have done, and continue to do, in the face of COVID. We are fighters, but we are getting tired. I have come to realize “compassion fatigue” is a real thing. We continue to push for vaccinations as our hope against this dreadful virus, even in the face of outliers and “Facebook doctors” who think this is all a myth. Despite the negativity, emergency physicians have a strong united front on Covid vaccinations! We have some small non-scientific surveys that show 98-99% vaccination for EM physicians. Sadly, the nursing profession is much lower, but we will continue to encourage them as well.

Our nurses are exhausted too, and many are leaving the nursing field altogether. The bedside nursing shortage is dire, and the nurses need our support. Unfortunately, many are looking to nurse practitioner (NP) degrees to “get out of nursing”. Some see the idea of having more “autonomy” of patient care as a great plan for the future, but without appropriate education and oversight this is a patient safety problem. The NP schools are not regulated like medical schools - and the clinical hour requirement is so random. As a section, while we value the assistance of advanced practice providers in the ED, we will continue to work for physician-led care of emergency patients. Because of this, our section leaders have revised our EM Workforce section operational guidelines to better reflect the goals of the section going forward. Scope of practice issues are our main priority at this time, and we look for a stronger section in the future.

This past year, I have been working for our section as Newsletter Editor and sending out section emails on engagED for Workforce Wednesdays. Our Chair-elect decided to step down, and I was honored to be appointed Chair-elect by our Section Executive Committee in the interim. We are working toward a more involved section, and I would like see this continue. Please do not get discouraged - more physicians are talking about scope issues and the conversation is gaining ground - but we need a louder voice! I would encourage everyone to contact at least two other ACEP members and get them to join us. We have a small section (surprising since workforce issues top EM physician concerns) but our hope is to grow the section in the next year. This is a great time to get involved. Our section meeting is via Microsoft Teams - September 23, at 12:00PM CDT. (This is a few weeks before SA.) At that time, we will vote on the operational guidelines proposal, and vote on the new section officers. I would like to hear new business issues you would like discussed as well.

On a personal note, I would like to thank Mary Smith, our ACEP Staff Liaison. She has been invaluable to me as I am learning how to be engaged as an EM physician, and she has been   diligently taking care of our section behind the scenes. Thank you, Mary!!

With gratitude to all,

Debbie Fletcher, MD, FACEP