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Match Day is an annual event in which medical students in the United States find out if they matched into a residency training program. There are 3,094 emergency medicine residency training spots and, as of March 13, it was reported that 555 positions went unfilled. This number will decrease as spots are filled with unmatched applicants; however, SEMPA is troubled by the lack of interest in the emergency medicine profession and concerned about how this will impact the emergency medicine workforce.
Emergency medicine has been adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic more so than any other specialty. This combined with increased boarding and overcrowding, high emergency medicine clinician burnout rates and the rise of private equity likely contributed to this match result.
SEMPA believes that another key contributor to this match result is the emergency medicine workforce projections released in December 2021 as part of the Emergency Medicine Physician Workforce: Projections for 2030 report. This study forecasts a surplus of 7,845 emergency medicine physicians by 2030. In response, many of the national emergency medicine physician groups stated that the growth of the PA and NP professions would, in part, limit the demand for emergency medicine physicians. Some went as far as to advocate for ending all PA and NP postgraduate training programs and for replacing PAs and NPs with physicians. A narrative was developed that included unfounded evidence toward the lack of PA education, training and competency.
There is now evidence from the Emergency Medicine Workforce Clinician Entry and Attrition study published August 2022 that the emergency medicine physician surplus was largely overstated. However, SEMPA fears that the negativity and divisive speech directed toward PAs and NPs has had a detrimental impact on the perceptions of the emergency medicine specialty.
In response to this match result, a Match Task Force has been convened among many of the large national emergency medicine physician organizations to identify factors that have led to these unfilled positions. SEMPA, the largest national organization representing EMPAs, has unfortunately not been included despite the history of these groups focusing on the growth of PA and NP professions as a key contributor to the problem.
SEMPA, in fact, advocates that the growth of the PA profession is actually a part of the solution, not the problem. As highly skilled clinicians, EMPAs can be deployed in a variety of ways to add flexibility and increase efficiency in crowded emergency departments. We are also versatile and adaptable and believe that EMPAs working as an integral part in all emergency departments is a value, not a liability.
The SEMPA Board of Directors continues to be dedicated to the team-based, collaborative practice of emergency medicine. We believe that highly trained EMPAs working in concert with emergency medicine physicians is optimal to ensure efficient and high-quality care for our patients. We welcome a continued dialogue with all the national emergency medicine physician organizations and other stakeholders to address the negative perceptions of our great specialty.