Anna Engeln, MD, FACEP
President CO ACEP
COACEP just completed its 2nd annual Leadership Symposium and CME conference with an inspiring group of presenters and attendees. As I looked out the window at the snow dusted mountains, I reflected upon the incredible leaders we have in Emergency Medicine. Glancing around the room during one of the lectures, I was humbled by the impact those in the room have had on the lives of others. There were: national and state leaders who influence the legislation that directly impacts the care we provide; the teachers who share their knowledge, experience, and expertise with us so we can all be the best we can be for our patients; the bedside clinicians who are leaders in their Emergency Departments throughout the state and who selflessly give of their time to be lifelong learners in order to provide expert care to their patients. This is who we are as Emergency Medicine. We are the national leaders at the bedside, in our communities, and in teaching both each other and our patients.
Why do we do it? Because we care deeply for our patients. We all have the story as to why we chose emergency medicine, what drew us to the trauma bay or hallway bedside at one in the morning on a holiday weekend. We continue to be drawn to our patients’ bedsides after being the frontline in the Covid pandemic, the opioid epidemic, and the housing crisis. Emergency Physicians embrace the chaos and the unknown in order to care for our patients and for our communities. Our job is difficult, and the investment in leadership and advocacy is vital in order to educate those not in the field of medicine, to recognize and understand the scope of what is necessary to expertly perform our jobs for which we have spent our lives training.
Why is advocacy important? By telling our stories, we provide insight into what we do and what is required to do our job well. In a time when resources are precious and critical decisions are made by those who are not in the medical profession, it is essential that we fully communicate the impact we have on our communities. This upcoming year, COACEP will continue to advocate for our patients and our profession. In order to effectively advocate for our patients, we will work diligently to:
- Share your stories of boarding/hospital capacity issues and their effect on patients and staff to address our goal to increase resources (especially around mental health) to manage the impact of hospital capacity issues.
- Increase awareness of workplace violence and the impact it has on all working in medicine.
- Fight for equitable care for all patients as we are against the unsupervised practice of Medicine.
- Increase rural access to equitable emergency care by working with our legislators to increase Emergency Medicine physicians in the rural communities of Colorado.
- Protect earned reimbursement with out-of-network batching to minimize and avoid unnecessary increased cost.
- Continue to be an advocate and vocal leader for Public Health issues that impact our patients and communities.
How do we become leaders? Dr. Aisha Terry, ACEP president, shared a very impactful Nelson Mandela quote at COACEP’s Leadership Symposium: “Leadership Development is about standing with and then on the shoulders of giants.” This made me pause and remember all the giants that have helped all of us progress and grow both as specialists and individuals.
I am grateful for:
- Those who helped to create our specialty by recognizing the importance of master generalists at the front line of medicine who provide not only triage, but also treat, stabilize, and rule out life threatening ailments.
- Those who inspired our learning through every step of our career, those who held the bar high so we studied a little longer in the library, those who shared their triumphs and failures in care so we could learn, grow, and be better doctors for our patients.
- Those who advocate for our specialty and the care we provide.
- Our co-workers with whom we work during chaotic shifts, who taking our sign-outs after long days/nights, and who challenge us and lean into the chaos with us.
- Our patients and their families who we meet, often at their worst moments. We are expertly prepared with the education, skills, and mastery we have committed our lives to obtain. We make an impactful and many times life-saving difference in their lives.
What can you do? We welcome you to our Annual meeting in January and our Board meetings. We are available via email or EngagED. Tell us your stories. What is impacting your community? How is that affecting your ability to care for patients? Your involvement empowers us to advocate for you and the patients you care for. We are each the leaders, we are one another’s giants as we inspire each other to be the best we
can be for our patients and the specialty that we all serve and care for so deeply.