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Inspired by her prior experiences participating in international exchanges, and an enduring love for all things Italian, EMGLEX founder Dr. Alexandra Asrow organized and completed her elective rotation in Italy at Umberto Primo Hospital during her Emergency Medicine Residency. While observing and networking with her colleagues in their respective Emergency Departments, she learned about the state of Emergency Medicine as a specialty in Italy, and Europe as a whole. At this time, as in many European countries with advanced healthcare systems, Emergency Medicine had just been formally recognized as a specialty practice in Italy a few years prior. In many European countries, to this day, formal recognition is still in development. During this experience, an idea formed on how to share intercultural differences and continue to improve the practice of Emergency Medicine.
In the coming years, Dr. Asrow attended international conferences, visited hospitals all around Italy, and created a network of like minded colleagues who shared the same goal. In 2017, in partnership with the Italian National Emergency Medicine Residents Association, CosMEU, Dr. Asrow established an international exchange program, now known as the EMGLEX Flagship Exchange Program. The objective was to raise understanding and share experiences in the science and medicine of emergency care, the management and flow of the Emergency Department, and most importantly learning about Emergency Medicine education in the US. As the exchange portion of the program, Dr. Asrow and colleagues traveled regularly to Italy to provide intensive lectures, courses, simulation sessions, and other educational programming.
In 2020, the in-person exchange program was paused due to COVID. Dr. Asrow utilized this time to create EMGLEX, a nonprofit organization with the goal of financially supporting future International Emergency Medicine residents that may not have the means to participate in this valuable exchange on their own. In addition, EMGLEX has facilitated expansion to incorporate many new countries with similarly developed healthcare systems, and developing, or no formally recognized Emergency Medicine. Through EMGLEX, Dr. Asrow hopes to continue her work to help promote recognition, growth, and commitment to the future of the specialty.
Thanks to the improvement in travel restrictions, the flagship exchange program is now scheduled to restart in January of 2023! However, with the rise in remote communication methodology, lectures and communication have continued throughout the pandemic, and there has been tremendous mutual support throughout this difficult time.
As physicians in both the US and abroad have dealt with the burden and trauma of the experience of working on the frontlines, the value of Emergency Medicine, now more than ever, is crystal clear. The need to invest in the future of the specialty has never been greater.
By investing in the future generation of Emergency Physicians, and supporting and developing training programs in countries without standardized Emergency Medicine curricula, we hope to create a world where anyone, anywhere, can feel secure that if they have a health emergency, they will be treated by a well trained, compassionate, competent Emergency Physician, and walk out of the hospital to tell the tale.