December 19, 2019

From the Section Chair

I’m delighted to have the opportunity to help steer the Section over the next two years and would like to express the heartfelt appreciation I know we all share to Bob Solomon for his leadership from 2017-2019 as Section Chair.

There are a number of initiatives I’m interested in undertaking over the next two years. I look forward to hearing your thoughts about them, your honest critique of those that are unfeasible and inappropriate, and your support for and participation in those that seem worthy. These initiatives include:

  • A renewed exploration of those ways that the medical humanities are clinically relevant. We’ve done a great job establishing ourselves as the artists, writers, and poets within ACEP and as defined by our art, writing, and poetry. This work is tremendously important, but risks putting us in a safe box that is separate from actual clinical care. I’m interested in pushing the envelope on “applied medical humanities” or those ways our work informs the immediate care of patients and our immediate dialogues as clinicians. As one small example, the passage of Resolution #13 in the Council this year (which dictates ACEP is no longer to use the word “provider” in its descriptions of health care professionals) speaks to the fact that words matter to all of us. We are, and should be positioning ourselves as, the experts in such dialogues, and offering corresponding resources to our colleagues. This is a call to arms to begin asserting the relevance of our work to actual clinical care.
  • In the context of the clinical relevance of what we do, we already have a fantastic platform and set of tools living at https://www.acep.org/humanities-at-the-bedside. A corollary to the call to arms above would be to encourage our Section members to promote this tool, and to contribute to the Resources section within it and continue to grow it into the powerful engine it can continue to be.
  • I’d like to reinvigorate discussions on the “engagED” listserv for our Section. This email tool connects us together and allows us to carry on discussions and make decisions between formal Section meetings. I’ll begin launching some specific questions on that platform to help us build a real online community around topics that we should be addressing.
  • In the context of reinforcing the clinical and practical relevance of our work, I’d like to suggest launching a “Copyediting Opportunities Strike Team” (COST) program. At least speaking for me, I actually enjoy copyediting the work of others. This could be a service we’d provide to fellow ACEP members who would like to have short pieces of writing formally copyedited. We could promise a 24-hour turnaround and have a strike team roster with a single unified email alias like copyedit@acep.org. Material sent into it would be forwarded to those of us interested in a COST, and whoever was first available would grab it and turn it around back to the submitter with copyedits in place. Thoughts? We can discuss this further by engagED listserv!
  • In the context of further refining projects already in place, we have some work to do in clarifying the intent and submission eligibility of our writing (prose and poetry) and visual arts awards, and in putting final design features in place for the new book Emergency Medicine Narratives that recognizes the last dozen years of those awards. This work is ongoing, and there will surely be more dialogue about that on engagED as well.
  • At our Section meeting we also discussed expanding our attention more to the visual and auditory arts, especially as they relate to our overall goal over the next two years to reinforce our clinical relevance. I totally agree with this. Ideas floated at the Section meeting included integrating into emergency department design initiatives with regard to visual arts, further emphasizing the work being done in Psychological First Aid and other technologies to capture psychology research on the clinical effect of words, and others. Please share your thoughts!

We have exciting days ahead!

Seth Collings Hawkins, MD, FACEP