November 21, 2023

Filling the Gaps in Emergency Medicine: A Transformative Journey at the ACEP Congress

By George Notas and Dimitios Tsiftsis
Hellenic Society for Emergency Medicine

In the ever-evolving landscape of Emergency Medicine, the pursuit of knowledge and global collaboration have become paramount. Thus, when the ACEP International Emergency Medicine Section extended an invitation to the Hellenic Society for Emergency Medicine (HeSEM) to participate in the Global Village Initiative, it was both an opportunity and a significant responsibility for us. Greece is currently in the early stages of developing Emergency Medicine as a discipline, with a limited number of Emergency Physicians, via either grandparenting or a two-year supraspecialty program initiated in 2020, right in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As representatives of HeSEM, we embarked on an exciting journey at the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) Congress, which has long been renowned as the epitome of Emergency Medicine gatherings, drawing thousands of physicians, healthcare professionals, and innovators worldwide. Full of anticipation and eagerness, we set foot in the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia.

The 11th Annual International Ambassador Conference

Our journey began with the opportunity to participate in the 11th Annual International Ambassador Conference. We have been fortunate to have Dr. Michael Radeos as an ACEP ambassador for many years, whose role was pivotal in organizing the supraspecialty in Greece. At this conference, we met and interacted with (remarkably young) ACEP members who, either as ambassadors or as hard-working members of the ACEP International Emergency Medicine Section, have been supporting worldwide the development of emergency medicine residency programs, fellowships, and other initiatives, both in resource-poor and resource-rich countries. Emergency medicine is not currently recognized as a specialty in a significant number of countries worldwide. International collaboration via the ACEP International Ambassador program may bring down political barriers, expedite processes, and provide the needed know-how for initiating the training of young Emergency Physicians on a proper base. This exciting experience bridged international divides and unveiled an inspiring vision for advancing Emergency Medicine in Greece.

The following social events solidified relationships, as is often the case when breaking bread with someone. It was so interesting to see how old friendships, developed through this program, evolved into important initiatives that have transformed societies and, quite possibly, saved numerous lives in the process.

The ACEP Global Village: A Melting Pot of Wisdom and Innovation

The next day the journey continued at the ACEP Global Village, a hub of cultures, experiences, innovations, and opportunities. It was the heartbeat of global Emergency Medicine, where organizations like EuSEM, IFEM, and professionals from diverse backgrounds (Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas) assembled. For three days, transformative experiences and ideas flowed freely. The spirit of collaboration was palpable as experts, enthusiasts, and students mingled and shared their insights. Daily presentations by participating societies and ACEP members with significant international Emergency Medicine experience, along with extensive discussions, highlighted our shared passion for Emergency Medicine.

In this energetic atmosphere, we discovered the invaluable opportunity to connect with ACEP officials - some of the most experienced minds in the field. These remarkable individuals offered us guidance, support, and a shared vision for the future of Emergency Medicine in Greece. In a number of discussions, we sat down with some of ACEP's top officials, who have been instrumental in shaping the field of Emergency Medicine worldwide. We discussed the current state of Emergency Medicine in Greece and the challenges we faced. Their insights were eye-opening, and they shared wisdom on best practices and strategies for improvement.

One recurring theme throughout our interactions was the undeniable role of collaboration in advancing Emergency Medicine. It was evident that the challenges faced by the healthcare system in Greece were not unique; they were shared by Emergency Medicine communities worldwide. This shared ground was fertile soil for collaboration and mutual growth. We realized that the hurdles in our path could be transformed into stepping stones. By connecting with ACEP, EuSEM, IFEM, and other global organizations, we could learn from their experiences, adopt best practices, and work collectively to drive change in Greece. The ACEP officials were eager to provide guidance and support, reassuring us that we were not alone in our mission. This is definitely a relationship that will last for the years to come. We are confident that the ACEP International Emergency Medicine Section will generously continue to create opportunities for the participation of more Emergency Medicine national societies in such initiatives.

In addition to the enlightening conversations with ACEP officials, we also had the opportunity to participate in the scientific sessions of the ACEP 2023 Congress, a stage for the presentation of optimal practices in Emergency Medicine, cutting-edge research, and pioneering technologies that could revolutionize the field. We also had the opportunity to meet with Emergency Physicians of Greek origin who volunteered to support our efforts of advancing Emergency Medicine in Greece through live or remote teaching, mentoring our young residents, and offering their experience and insight into every major step we must take along the way.

A Vision for the Future: Advancing Emergency Medicine in Greece

Our journey at the ACEP Congress was more than just a gathering of minds; it was the ignition of a vision. It was a vision where Emergency Medicine in Greece, steeped in the wisdom of global experts, would undergo a transformative evolution. With the support of a global network of peers and innovative ideas, we were motivated to return home and implement change.

The roadmap was clear. We would engage with healthcare institutions and organizations in Greece, leveraging the collective knowledge we had gained. We would promote education and research, aiming to elevate the standards of Emergency Medicine in our country. Our interactions at ACEP have given us the tools, the connections, and the inspiration to take on this challenging task.

Our journey at the ACEP Congress was nothing short of empowering. It was a reminder that the challenges faced in Emergency Medicine were not unbeatable. It was an affirmation that we were part of a global community of passionate professionals, all dedicated to the same goal — advancing healthcare, one Emergency Medicine department at a time. As we left the vibrant streets of Philadelphia, we carried with us the knowledge, connections, and inspiration to go forward with our vision.

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