ISAEM Launches National Ambassador Project

Published on July 13, 2015
The International Student Association of Emergency Medicine is beginning to establish regional outposts to provide peer support and resources for EM students and residents around the globe.

Creating and maintaining different collaborations is of great importance for the International Student Association of Emergency Medicine (ISAEM). After attending several international conferences (EuSEM, ACEP, ESEM, etc.), it because clearer that positive developments could not be maintained without excellent networking. ISAEM therefore created new key positions in its infrastructure and launched the national ISAEM Ambassadors Program. The purpose of this program is to lengthen the collaborating arms of ISAEM (and thereby develop further its international network and collaboration with medical students), and to increase the interest and influence of medical students with an interest in Emergency Medicine (EM)—both in countries with and without an independent specialty in EM.

An ISAEM national ambassador is a medical student who is already deep involved in the work of a national or local EM interest group in their country. The key tasks of the ambassadors will be to help evolve clinical exchange programs with the executive board, and to maintain and sustain contact with their respective national and local EM interest groups and organizations. There will be bi-monthly meetings with all ISAEM national ambassadors to make sure developments are going well, and to exchange experience and ideas of how to further develop an interest in EM among medical students. Ambassadors, in turn, will hear each other’s updates on EM worldwide, and will attend board meetings within ISAEM.

ISAEM currently has three national ambassadors: from Denmark, Brazil, and the US.

With a focus on the different educational, cultural, and organizational aspects of EM, our ambassadors were asked to share their thoughts on the ambassador program and future aspects of the development of EM on both a national and international level. Here’s what they had to say.

Why do you think the ISAEM national ambassador project is a great idea?

Rebecca Oestervig Denmark is one of the few European countries where EM is not yet recognized as an independent specialty. However, we are fortunate to have many committed students who are very engaged in reaching out and passing on their interest in EM. The ISAEM National Ambassador Project serves an important role in both encouraging and motivating these students and, in general, brings attention to the importance of establishing EM as a specialty. Moreover, it is possible for the ambassador to create a link between new initiatives within the field from around the world, and on the ongoing project of having EM recognized in Denmark.

Henrique Puls EM is not recognized in Brazil, so Brazilian medical students don’t even imagine it as a career. I believe that introducing the specialty directly to the students is the most effective pathway to turn this “unknown” specialty in to a desirable field and force its recognition by the medical authorities.

Lance Adams This ISAEM program fosters a symbiotic relationship between health care providers in EM throughout the globe, allowing skills, knowledge, training, and networking unhindered by borders or languages. Such a relationship has the potential to bless the lives of millions as its effects trickle down to the lives of our patients.

What is your expectation to your position as a national Ambassador for ISAEM?

Oestervig I hope to motivate our committed by bringing updates on EM from around the world. We have to look for ideas and inspiration from abroad because EM is not recognized in our country. The collaboration with ISAEM makes this possible. Denmark is divided in 5 regions with different positions on this specialty. Being a part of ISAEM can contribute to narrowing the gaps and to forming a united acknowledgement in all regions of the importance of EM. This will make students as well as doctors aware of the fact that it is possible to pursue a career in EM, because many young doctors do not dream of a career within the field simply because they do not know it exists.

Puls EM is an amazing field, and I am sure there is a huge number of people within Brazil that would be interested. The biggest problem is that they do not know that EM exists. My first step in working for ISAEM will be to introduce EM as a real specialty to my Brazilian colleagues and strive to create an EM support network within our country. During these processes I would get in touch with several passionate EM people, which I am sure will be extremely valuable to further developing EM in Brazil.

Adams As an ambassador for ISAEM to the US I will be able to create international relationships establishing health exchanges that allow US students to get a taste of international medicine, as well providing students from the US to gain experience with students outside the US. I believe that there are many US students who would be interested in such an exchange. Such interest is reflected by the new scholarship created by EMRA specifically for EMRA US medical students to travel abroad to gain international experience.

What is the biggest problem for developing EM among medical students in your country?

Oestervig In Denmark, SOFAS is the Danish student organization for young people with an interest in EM. SOFAS is established in all Danish medical schools and has local and national boards. Our biggest challenge is that there are many takers for the students’ attention and that it can be tricky for students to decide which organization to join. For SOFAS, it has been difficult to allocate members, especially in the capital region. The interest is there, but it is a challenge to recruit members for a specialty that does not yet exist. However, during the past year SOFAS has managed to draw a greater focus on EM in the main region, and has arranged their first course for students, to take place in autumn 2015. Hopefully many more will follow in the near future.

Puls Since EM is not a recognized specialty in Brazil, the vast majority of students do not even consider following this pathway. When thinking about what specialty to choose, the first question that comes to their minds is “surgery or medicine?” I believe that when Brazilian medical students realize that EM is a real specialty and it is possible to have it as a career, this situation will change and the demand for the specialty will force its recognition by Brazilian medical organizations.

Adams The largest problem facing US students is the lack of availability for all students interested in EM to match in the US.

What do you expect to have achieved within the next year?

Oestervig My ambition is first to help define why EM is needed as an independent specialty. I also wish to endorse our local student organizations in arranging lectures and courses in EM, because that is how we reach our students—the future physicians in EM.

Puls I have three goals within ISAEM for 2015. First, start an ISAEM membership in the top 25 Medical Schools in Brazil. Second, make Brazilian ISAEM members active ISAEM members. I want Brazilian members to have a meaningful and productive participation in ISAEM. I am sure that each member has several ideas to share with the ISAEM community. Third, select spots for the ISAEM exchange observership program. That is the toughest task, but it is the one I am most excited about. I believe we have quality spots to offer medical students internationally.

Adams Within the next year my goal is to establish the first set of exchanges between US institutions and other international EM establishments.

-Henrique Puls is a fifth year medical student in Brazil and an associate director of the UFCSPA Emergency Medicine and Trauma Interest group.

-Rebecca Oestervig is a fifth year medical student in Denmark and a board member of the Danish Emergency Medicine Student Organization, SOFAS.

-Lance Adams a final year medical student from Ross University School of Medicine, and is a medical student Council International representative in EMRA.

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