A Bridge Between Nations

Published on October 5, 2016
Emergency medicine opens up possibilities for further increased collaboration and cooperation between the USA, and other countries, with Iran, in efforts such as faculty and fellow exchanges, curriculum development, sub-specialty certification exam development, and clinical research.

In May of this year I was invited by the Iranian Ministry of Health to travel to Iran to assist in the initial development of the sub-specialty of Pediatric Emergency Medicine for Iran. This trip reminded me of the “bridging” and diplomatic effects that EM can offer to countries beset by political or ideological differences. As you know, the governments of the USA and Iran have not exactly gotten along well since 1979, and both governments have targeted each other with plenty of critical rhetoric. That said, I have had nothing but good experiences in Iran, and I was received with kindness and friendliness by all my colleagues and acquaintances there.

I first got involved with Iran in 2000, at the request of the Iran Ministry of Health and Iran University, in Tehran. The Ministry had studied different models of emergency health care delivery, and elected to go with the US model to improve emergency care throughout Iran. Together with my colleagues Drs. Jeff Smith and Mo Mazaheri, and others, we helped set up coordinated EM curricula, residency training, and faculty development. The first EM residency program became operational at Iran University, and soon thereafter additional EM residency programs were started at most of the big university hospitals throughout the country. The Iranians quickly brought the specialty of emergency medicine in Iran to a mature level with the formation of a national emergency physicians organization, national conferences on EM, standardized residency curricula, national specialty board certification, publication in prestigious journals of numerous clinical research projects, and active participation in the International Federation for Emergency Medicine.

Now that the specialty of EM is well established in Iran, the need and value of starting pediatric EM as a recognized sub-specialty and post-residency fellowship training program came about this year. This project opens up possibilities for further increased collaboration and cooperation between the USA, and other countries, with Iran, in efforts such as faculty and fellow exchanges, curriculum development, sub-specialty certification exam development, and clinical research. The process of sub-specialty development for pediatric EM in Iran could serve as a model for the creation of other sub-specialties such as emergency medical services, toxicology, critical care medicine, and/or geriatric EM, and others. In the longer term, the development of EM sub-specialties in Iran could be used to help some of the countries bordering Iran, which do not have highly developed health care delivery systems.

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