Boarding, nursing shortages, violent patients, burnout….These are the realities we are facing right now in emergency medicine. And if that is not enough, insurance companies are trying to pinch everyone while they make record profits. These are challenging times for all of us. We are the experts at chaos. Like MacGyver (I am dating myself) we can take a mess and come up with solutions to any problem presented to us. Unfortunately, this very talent we possess can bandaid the real issues making the numbers look acceptable. Doing this on a daily basis, however, pushes us to the edge every day, every shift. It pushes our nurses and staff to the brink.
We don’t know how long the shortages will last or for how long patients will be boarding in our departments. Violence will NOT be tolerated…..Period. NCCEP is 100% committed to sounding the alarm on this issue and will not stop until we feel our staff, physicians, patients and their family members are protected. We will continue to fight the insurance companies for fair reimbursement. All goods and services are much more expensive than they were two years ago. I feel, given the environment in which we work and the excellent care we provide, we deserve consideration for better compensation not an effective pay cut due to inflation.
The last thing I want to address is burnout. I don’t think I am overstepping when I say we are ALL feeling it right now. Look out for your colleagues and staff. Look out for yourself. Physicians are terrible patients. We are always “fine” or just “figure it out”. If you see someone struggling, talk to them and point them to some help. Just small acts of kindness may be exactly what your colleague needs.
As I sat talking to a good friend, Damian, this weekend. We contemplated these issues. His wisdom and perspective reminded me of a few truths. Despite what seems like insurmountable odds, we are hopeful because of the people in this college, locally and nationally. We have great leaders here in North Carolina and a fantastic team top to bottom in NCCEP. We are spoiled to have Liz and Colleen do what they do for us. Past and current leaders laid the foundation starting in 1972! The contributions over the years have made a positive impact on every physician in North Carolina, whether they realize it or not. If we listed the work that this college has done behind the scenes, people would be shocked at how many times NCCEP leadership has saved them from serious negative consequences resulting from misguided legislation. I am excited that we had such qualified candidates for the board and growing resident involvement. This makes me hopeful for the future of EM in North Carolina and beyond. We can continue to fight for our profession.
Thomas Bernard, MD, FACEP