Evolution, longevity and the future of emergency medicine

FACEM Dr Sue Ieraci will be a keynote speaker at this year's ASM
ACEM Board
As ACEM approaches its 35th Anniversary, it’s a good time to look back and see how emergency medicine has changed and whether it’s lived up to its early aspirations.
What was the original vision that drove the pioneers of emergency medicine to design the specialty as they did?
What situations did they foresee the College and its members would face in the future?
Are there unrealised aspects of this early vision that can be drawn on today to inform how emergency medicine develops?  


Four talks
FACEM Dr Sue Ieraci will be exploring these questions in an ambitious series of keynote presentations during the ACEM 2017 Annual Scientific Meeting in November.
Do not miss the opportunity to attend the ASM and hear keynote speakers like Sue. Register now! 
A practicing emergency physician for over 25 years, Sue has held roles in ED management, medical regulation and health systems research, while maintaining a clinical career. She is also an executive member of Friends of Science in Medicine, an independent organisation that seeks to emphasize the importance of scientifically sound research and established scientific knowledge in healthcare.
Sue will deliver a series of four plenary presentations, taking the theme of each day as a prism through which to view emergency medicine’s origins and its possible futures.
Nothing is impossible
In Monday’s opening plenary session – which has the theme of ‘Impossible is just a perspective: Wicked Problems in Emergency Medicine’ – Sue will be delivering her presentation Creation or Evolution? From Shelley to Darwin and Back.
“I’m using the 19th. C novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley as a way to explore our specialty’s development,” Sue says. “The book’s alternative title The Modern Prometheus is also rich with meaning for us because in the Prometheus mythology, he’s punished for stealing the secret of fire from the gods and this has often been seen as a kind of warning about the inherent dangers of science.”
Winning hand
The Tuesday afternoon plenary session – ‘Getting the Balance Right: Leadership’ – has drawn Sue to create a presentation called Reclaiming our Specialism: Queen of Hearts, not Jack of all Trades.
“As an emergency medicine physician you’re called a jack of all trades with the underlying implication that you’re a ‘master of none’,” Sue explains. “I want us to reclaim our specialty by saying we are experts but the definition of our specialism is more about a way of practicing; we’re broader and more generalist but those things aren’t deficiencies, they’re aspects of our uniqueness!”
Reaching higher
‘Beyond our Wildest Imagining’ is the title of Wednesday morning’s plenary session. Sue has put together a presentation called ‘Taking Control’ that looks at the evolution of the specialty and the role its practitioners should play in determining the next stage of its growth.
“I’m exploring the idea that evolution – which people often think is about a move towards perfection – is actually a fight for survival,” Sue says. “How can we change our stewardship of emergency medicine to one where we’re not just trying to endure but are actively seeking out the highest expression of our specialty, which is about providing the best standard of care to our patients?”
A question of longevity
The fourth Plenary session on Thursday morning sees Sue deliver her final talk Time Flies When You’re Having Fun.
“I want to look at the question of how to sustain a career in emergency medicine,” she says. “I’m going to look at what’s sustained me over the years and then tie that in with this premise of ‘recreating’ the specialty and making it more like what it was intended to be.”
Sue notes that data from the 2016 ACEM Workforce Sustainability Survey Report revealed that significant numbers of physicians and trainees are experiencing burnout and the main cause of work-related stress was overcrowding.
“That survey also found that over a quarter of FACEMs and nearly a fifth of trainees planned to leave the specialist EM workforce in the next decade,” she says. “So there’s a clear picture emerging of an unsustainable workplace culture that is leaking expertise and that can only be bad for patients.”
In closing
As well as outlining what she sees as the major issues, across her four presentations Sue will also be presenting a suggested framework for moving forward. She wants to stimulate thought and encourage others to generate their own ideas.
“I want to encourage a dialogue and inspire others to join me in looking for ambitious solutions,” Sue says. “I want to position us as masters of our own destiny rather than victims of it.”
A compelling and interactive program

This year’s ASM will be held in Sydney from 19-23 November at the new Sydney International Conference Centre, and will focus on the themes of ‘Impossible is just a perspective’ and ‘Getting the balance right.’

The meeting will offer a compelling and interactive program, broad enough to cover the full gamut of emergency medicine, with a line-up of the most inspiring, entertaining and knowledgeable speakers in the emergency medicine world today. Each will be taking on the hard topics and exploring the nuanced discussion, plus cutting-edge research and novel ways to translate into practice.

Check out the program and registration details on the ASM website.