May 24, 2022

Strategic Thoughts: Young Physicians Help Chart ACEP’s Next Steps

Back in July 2021, our YPS Chair John Corker, MD, FACEP, and Chair Elect Puneet Gupta, MD, FACEP, were both asked to serve on the planning teams that developed ACEP’s new Strategic Plan. The plan, launched in late April 2022, was created by a group of more than 100 ACEP leaders, members and staff who were organized into 8 separate work groups. The final product incorporated the input from those groups and synthesized it into five strategic pillars that will help ACEP chart its course for the next three to five years.

A key goal of the strategic planning group was to clarify ACEP’s dual, and sometimes competing, mission of supporting the emergency physician and the specialty as a whole. A strong consensus was reached that ACEP’s vision for change must prioritize the needs and well-being of each emergency first. Only then can we all make the specialty better.

Dr. Gupta was selected as a member of the Communications planning team, while Dr. Corker was asked to serve on the Member Engagement planning group. Here, they talk about their experience and why they wanted to weigh in on ACEP’s long term plans.

How did you feel about ACEP’s new approach to strategic planning, incorporating as many member voices as possible?

Dr. Corker: I think this was an important, proactive step for ACEP to take. And I feel honored to be included because ultimately the field of emergency medicine is evolving before our eyes. And unless we get ahead of that and evolve as an organization, there's no way that we can serve our members or our profession without leading the way in that evolution. Striving to not only make emergency medicine better for our me, for our members, our colleagues, our patients, but also to maintain an environment of productive employment and the best possible care for our patients.

Dr. Gupta: I loved multiple aspects of [the strategic planning process]. The first was the fact that the Board of Directors recognized there was a call for change, and they didn't mess around. They were like, you know what? We got a call for change. Let’s look at this, let's break it down. Let's see where we need to go as an organization.

And they didn't just keep it to the stakeholders. They made sure they reached to all levels of emergency medicine. We had med students there, we had residents there. I was there as a young physician, and we had other young physicians there just to make sure that we had stakeholders from all levels of the specialty represented.

What specific aspects of the strategic planning discussions stood out to you?

Dr. Gupta: Number one was the recognition that we were trying too hard to become the home for emergency medicine and not focusing enough on being the home for emergency physicians. We are a physician organization first and foremost. We are here to advocate for emergency physicians and ro fight for them, and we're going to drive ourselves forward in that regard.

The second thing that came out of that, which I thought was poignant was, recognizing the need for more transparency, as much as we've already been doing. And recognizing the need for ACEP to become the home for other emergency physicians was the ultimate benchmark statement. We want ACEP to be a place where people can turn when they have issues, when they have problems, and recognize where they can get answers and how they can advocate to get what they need going forward.

What did you personally gain from being part of the planning groups?

Dr. Corker: As the immediate past chair of YPS, it was really instructive for me to be able to participate in committees that included the perspective of medical students and residents from around the country in all walks of life, but also members of the ACEP Board and our current ACEP president. I kind of fall in the middle of that continuum of experience. It was really instructive for me to be able to participate, but also to have my comments and thoughts molded by my fellow committee members with different perspectives.

Why was it important to have diverse perspectives in the planning groups?

Dr. Gupta: For YPS, and for me in particular as a person, diversity is incredibly important. It's hard to walk in somebody else's shoes, but it's important to recognize there's other shoes to walk. Whe you are already well established, it's hard to recognize how hard it is to get a job these days. As a male physician , it is hard for me to understand the struggles that a female physician or a transgender physician might be going through. I recognize they exist, and I can be an ally, but I can't put myself in their shoes.

And if I don’t know the struggle, how can I advocate for them fully? So, the diversity representation of the planning teams allowed us to have multiple viewpoints weighing in and helping guide the College. We’re all in this together. And if we're not representing everyone, what are we really here for?

Was there anything about the planning process that surprised you?

Dr. Corker: Initially I was surprised, in a good way, by how many people were involved. In my experience in organized medicine, sometimes we can get a little too exclusive. It can be a little bit too much of a hierarchy. And a lot of times that leads to policies and actions that may seem out of touch to certain members of our constituency. I was surprised, but impressed in a positive way, that there were so many different people involved. I knew that would result in a much more widely-representative strategic plan for our organization.

Dr. Gupta: I loved how everyone in that room was open to change, open to voices, open to hearing what other people thought and recognizing that we were going to go in a different direction. And we were all kind of working toward a common goal. Usually, you have someone in a room that's fighting you back. Someone with resistance, someone who just fights against the ideas for the sake of fighting. But everyone in that room was just open to it, open to the experience. That was my favorite part about it.

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