By the mid-1960's, the number of medical specialists was rapidly rising, and the number of general practitioners was declining. This was one of the factors that caused the public to increasingly rely on hospital emergency rooms for care. Unfortunately, the medical expertise and a system for providing quality emergency care were sorely lacking, where public demand, more than science, fueled the formation of a new specialty.
In 1961, James Mills, Jr., MD, and three colleagues started a full-time Emergency Medicine practice in Alexandria, Virginia. By the late 1960's, hundreds of "Emergency Physicians" were in practice across the U.S. In 1968, John Wiegenstein, MD, and other founders organized Emergency Physicians to form the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP). Over the next decade, ACEP was the driving force in moving the field toward Board specialty status. The early leaders of the field who first left their practices to work full time in Emergency Departments recognized the need for training in Emergency Medicine. This began first as more continued medical education type meetings, or month-long courses at academic medical centers, but it became apparent the only way to properly train Emergency Physicians was through a formal residency program. And, so the much needed discipline was born.
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