New department of emergency medicine given OK by regents

School of Medicine's move recognizes national trend in specialization
By Staff

The Board of Regents on Thursday, Nov. 12, approved the creation of the department of emergency medicine within the School of Medicine.

"We're thrilled," said Ben Honigman, M.D., head of the division of emergency medicine and director of the Altitude Research Center. "It's been a long road to get to this point. This will be extremely beneficial to the university and the School of Medicine."

Emergency medicine has been a specialty of the school for 24 years, and became a separate division in 1992. The division's 45 full-time faculty members petitioned for departmental status in March 2008.

"Over the years, we've witnessed the development of the specialty of emergency medicine," said University of Colorado Denver Provost Rod Nairn. "They've got their own curriculum and they have their own faculty interests."
Some 7 percent of the School of Medicine's graduates pursue careers in emergency medicine. "These are students who want that excitement — like what you see on TV in things like 'E.R.' — who want to be on the cutting edge of emergency medicine," Nairn said.

The establishment of a new department is part of a national trend, he said, with two-thirds of all medical schools in the country now boasting separate departments of emergency medicine.

"Emergency medicine is a unique specialty that does not resemble surgery," Nairn told the Regents in September, noting that emergency physicians don't take part in a patient's operative care. "It requires its own clinical expertise."

A department chair will be appointed by the School of Medicine. General funds totaling $90,000 will be reallocated from the department of surgery to the new department.