AAEM/RSA Issues Statement on USACS Replacement at Summa Health

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“Emergency medicine residents are the future of our specialty; we must see this as a call to action to educate ourselves on issues related to the corporatization of emergency medicine so that we can ensure a future in which we are proud to practice.”

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We are deeply concerned about the effects of the recent events on the educational experience and well-being of our fellow emergency medicine trainees.

The American Academy of Emergency Medicine Resident and Student Association (AAEM/RSA) has issued the following statement in response to the USACS replacement that occurred at Summa Health in Akron, Ohio:

AAEM/RSA extends its sincerest support to the residents affected by the sudden termination of the academic faculty at the Summa Health Emergency Medicine Residency. We are deeply concerned about the effects of the recent events on the educational experience and well-being of our fellow emergency medicine trainees.

By now, most of you have heard about these recent events and the responses from the major emergency medicine organizations. The Akron-based Summa Emergency Associates, a physician-owned group in existence for 40 years, were suddenly terminated and replaced by US Acute Care Solutions in all of the emergency departments within the health system over the holiday season. Although USACS is partially physician-owned, it also has a major private equity partner which creates lay influence over their operations, something to which AAEM and RSA are opposed. AAEM and RSA are also opposed to the sudden termination of physicians without due process.

As an organization composed of emergency medicine trainees, we find most distressing the effect of this sudden change on the emergency medicine residency program: loss of the program leadership including the Program Director Dr. Shar Jwayyed, the 2017 winner of the ACGME Parker J. Palmer Courage to Teach Award; loss of their well established, well-vetted core faculty members with decades of dedication to the education of the Summa EM residents; disruption of ED based clinical training; as well as the potentially negative impact on residency recruitment. We sympathize with our fellow trainees as they navigate this difficult situation on top of the stressful demands of residency. Most certainly, such a change could threaten the personal and professional wellness of a program’s residents. We stand by these residents and offer our full support.

This issue highlights the importance of resident education in the topics of contract negotiation and financial wellness, which have traditionally only been a small proportion of residency education. As residents, we often do not realize the extent to which issues such as due process, restrictive covenants, joint ventures and fee-splitting may impact us, or assume that they will minimally affect us if we work in an academic setting. The importance of fair business practices extends beyond the well-being of the individual physician.

It affects our training and most importantly our ability to provide our patients the best care possible. This in turn affects the health of entire communities. RSA shares the core values of AAEM: ensuring fair practice environments, protecting physician rights, and educating members on contract concerns such as due process, restrictive covenants, joint ventures and fee-splitting.

We will continue to educate residents on these topics as we are the future of our specialty; only with knowledge of these important issues can we ensure the best future for our trainees, physicians and patients. We urge our RSA members to take advantage of the related resources available to you through AAEM and RSA. The Emergency Medicine Advocates Podcast Series features a list of podcasts detailing important legal and policy issues: http://www.aaem.org/publications/podcasts. AAEM will also provide your residency a speaker to discuss these topics at a weekly conference, entirely free of charge.

Again, we offer our full support to our resident colleagues at Summa Health during this difficult time. Emergency medicine residents are the future of our specialty; we must see this as a call to action to educate ourselves on issues related to the corporatization of emergency medicine so that we can ensure a future in which we are proud to practice.

AAEM Resident and Student Association (AAEM/RSA) is an accessible, collaborative organization that fosters innovation, education and advocacy for residents and students in emergency medicine. We provide resources and opportunities that educate, inspire, and inform emergency medicine trainees. AAEM/RSA also supports and educates residents on the core tenants of AAEM, including the necessity of fair practice environments and the requirement for board certification of all practicing emergency physicians.

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