“What have I gotten myself into?”
Last October, I was elected EMRA President-Elect the same month I became pregnant with my first baby. Even more overwhelming, her due date coincided with residency graduation and moving for fellowship. Should we pack our things, sleep on the floor until she arrives, then drive 400 miles in a moving van to move our 3-day-old baby into a new apartment?
Fortunately, that was a dilemma we didn't have to face, thanks to EMRA's advocacy on family medical leave.
In the fall of 2018, EMRA Representative Council (RepCo) debated a resolution asking EMRA to advocate for more flexible family and medical leave policies. The amount of leave is in part determined by the American Board of Emergency Medicine (ABEM), as they determine eligibility for board certification, including criteria such as the number of weeks of training. Some RepCo members were concerned that the wording of the 2018 resolution would have unintended consequences and instead suggested EMRA collaborate with ABEM to find the right language.
After a working group between ABEM and EMRA examined the issue, RepCo passed an improved resolution that established EMRA’s official position and advocacy ask. EMRA brought this proposal to ABEM, and the policy changed! EM residents now have access to an additional 2 weeks of leave separate from vacation time.
Back in 2018, I didn’t know how resolutions worked or how EMRA had the power to change my residency experience. Now, it has become deeply personal. The leave policy EMRA advocated for allowed me time to settle into a new city without delaying graduation. I got to drive my newborn 4 miles to a furnished apartment instead of 400 miles to an empty one.
How does EMRA work for you? My story was impacted by every piece of the process.
- Relationships. We build relationships with organizations that affect your life as a trainee. In the governing societies that control graduation requirements, residency standards, and legislative agendas, EMRA ensures a resident seat at every table that matters to us.
- Representation. The Representative Council is like a House of Representatives of all emergency medicine residents, with a Program Representative for every EM program in the U.S. This process lends authority to our voice on these issues.
- Residents. Most importantly, EMRA is created by and for EM residents, fellows, and EM-bound medical students. You bring us ideas and help us put them into action from policy resolutions to EM Resident articles, the MobilEM app, and committee events.
I am so honored to be your EMRA President this year and look forward to building on our strong legacy of serving you.