Are Emergency Medicine Residents Getting More Entrepreneurial?

One needn’t have traveled to Denver for the annual ACEP conference to know that the practice of emergency medicine is undergoing rapid change. But one thing I did sense there is that the new crop of emergency medicine physicians are more interested than ever in understanding and adapting to that change.

Leaving the political pundits and policy analysts in Washington behind to debate our healthcare crisis, I and a group of 24 MEP providers set off for Denver this past week to meet with old friends, recruit new colleagues, and settle one of the real pressing issues of our day: how much hops is too much hops? Denver was a fantastic host city, and MEP’s senior leadership had the opportunity to meet with hundreds of fellow ER docs.

But I also met EM residents and job seekers full of optimism, promise, and perhaps most notably: a new entrepreneurial attitude not necessarily seen in past generations. The residents I spoke with were an impressive lot who asked much more intelligent questions than I was able to summon when I was in their place. Really, how many of us knew what a performance metric was in residency?

I also met a physician who told me about an initiative to start an ECMO program in his ED for young cardiac arrest patients with a correctable cause for their collapse. Wow! This and other conversations got me thinking: are EM residents simply coming up more entrepreneurial than they used to be?

It sure seems so, and it would match a trend being seen across the country in other industries as well. The younger generation is adapting to the realities of the Great Recession by starting their own businesses, and today there are more self-employed young people in America than ever before.

Emergency medicine needs that entrepreneurial spirit. There is no shortage of challenges, after all. How to adapt to an ever changing set of CMS reimbursement rules? How to improve patient safety as an organization? How to meet the demands of a growing ED population with a shrinking supply of resources? Will we ever have truly comprehensive liability reform initiative in this country?

At USACS we ask our new providers to take an active roll in solving these kinds of problems – and it seems the younger generation is up to the task. With all the change in emergency medicine today, ER docs must take a more active role –  even when still in residency – in understanding where they fit in the big picture, and how they can contribute toward improving the processes and systems around them.

If there was one thing I will take away from ACEP 2012 – other than Denver has fantastic microbreweries, of course – it’s that the young EM residents I met are up to the task.