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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Emergency Medicine: On the Frontlines of Medical Education Transformation


Emergency medicine (EM) has always been on the frontlines of healthcare in the United States. I experienced this reality first hand as a young general medical officer assigned to an emergency department (ED) in a small naval hospital in the 1980s. For decades the ED has been the only site where patients could not be legally denied care. Despite increased insurance coverage for millions of Americans as a result of the Affordable Care Act, ED directors report an increase in patient volumes in a recent survey.1 EDs care for patients from across the socioeconomic spectrum suffering from a wide range of clinical conditions. As a result, the ED is still one of few components of the American healthcare system where social justice is enacted on a regular basis. Constant turbulence in the healthcare system, major changes in healthcare delivery, technological advances and shifting demographic trends necessitate that EM constantly adapt and evolve as a discipline in this complex environment.

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