31. The birth of a new specialty: The history of emergency medicine in Canada

R. Elyas

Abstract


Modern day emergency rooms across Canada have almost completely transformed over the past 30 years; perhaps more so than any other specialty. Before the 1970’s, it was primarily general practitioners working on a part-time basis who ran our emergency departments. Some hospitals used interns and residents as first-line emergency care providers, often under the direction of a surgeon or internist. Emergency Medicine has evolved into a highly sophisticated and respected medical specialty that extends beyond clinical medicine, into both research and academia. The appeal of Emergency Medicine is so great that it is now one of the most sought after specialties in the annual CaRMS match. The success story of Emergency Medicine is characterized by the tireless efforts and determination of its founders across the country. They fought for adequate and supervised care of the acutely ill or traumatized patient, believing in a special body of knowledge that should be available to physicians who spend most, if not all, their time in Emergency Departments. In 1977, these founders formally united and The Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians was born. A few years later, in 1980, Emergency Medicine was finally designated as a free-standing specialty by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. Meanwhile, the College of Family Physicians of Canada also sought to establish a parallel route for Emergency Training of Family Physicians, feeling that Emergency Medicine lay within the realm of Family Medicine. The result was that both colleges established Emergency Medicine training programs that exist until this day.
Using journals, archives, a survey, and interviews, the paper will trace the history of the professionalization of Emergency Medicine in Canada.
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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.25011/cim.v30i4.2791

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