April 18, 2019

EM Alphabet Soup: How to Swim Through It and Get Involved

By Alicia Mikolaycik Kurtz, MD

Want to get involved in EM, but not sure where to start? Have you heard the names of all kinds of medical organizations but have no idea what the difference is between ACEP, EMRA, ABEM, CORD, ACOEP, AAEM, SAEM, TDHQ, TACOSPLZ, and FHQC321DeltaB?

Well, you’re not alone. (And don’t worry — those last three aren’t even real!) It can be daunting to navigate the alphabet soup of organized medicine, so we’re doing our best to make it easy. 

Get Involved in 3 Steps

  1. Get to know what’s out there. My chart summarizes a ton of (but certainly not all) the organizations affiliated with EM. Look it over and see which opportunity sounds like it may jive with your interests.

  2. Do a little homework. Head to the website for whichever organization(s) stood out to you and look for details on available ways to get involved. These options are often found on pages titled “get involved,” “leadership,” “leadership opportunities,” or anything marked “committees,” “divisions,” or “sections.”

  3. Reach out! It sounds simple, but it can often be the most challenging step. While may leadership opportunities are described on these websites, it’s impossible for them to list all of the projects and work being done in every committee or interest based section of a large organization. So, other than joining as a member or applying to be on a committee or part of a subspecialty/section, etc., you have to get in touch with an actual human! Look up the point person for your area of interest — the committee chair, the division/section chair, or heck, anyone on the board of directors. These are people who are passionate about the work they’re doing who would absolutely love to hear from you.

One caveat to the above: Reach out with purpose. “Hey, I love Toxicology and want to know what’s going on in your ACEP section, any projects I can get involved with?” or “I am passionate about the unique experience of women in medicine. I was wondering if there was a way to get more involved at your FIX conference next year — do you need help planning? Volunteers to man the check in table? I’m your person!” That kind of thing.

“Hey I’m interested how can I get involved” is a bit generic doesn’t give people much to go on, especially for the non-member based organizations who would need you to bring something to the table, whereas the larger member groups (think ACEP, ACOEP, AAEM, CORD, SAEM) have plenty of existing sub-groups they could point you to for you to get started.

View Alicia's Alphabet of EM Organizations chart (pdf). 

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