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 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, in which Italian Emergency Medicine residents travel to Chicago for a one-month rotation to observe in American Emergency Departments as well as participate in hands-on simulations and didactic sessions alongside their American counterparts. The objective is 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, American Emergency Physicians regularly travel to Italy to provide intensive lectures, courses, simulation sessions, and other educational programming to Italian Emergency Medicine residents and students in various cities around Italy.
The in-person portion of the program was paused in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on travel, with plans to resume in the near future as travel restrictions are lifted. However, with the rise in remote communication methodology, lectures and communication have continued, and we have continued to support each other throughout this difficult experience, as physicians in both the US and Italy have dealt with the burden, and trauma of this experience working on the frontlines. Now more than ever, the value of Emergency Medicine, and a strong workforce of well trained Emergency Physicians is crystal clear, and the need to invest in the future of the specialty has never been greater. Therefore, Dr. Asrow has utilized this opportunity 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, we hope to expand to incorporate other countries with similarly developed healthcare systems, and developing, or no formally recognized Emergency Medicine, to help promote recognition, growth, and commitment to the future of the specialty in those places.
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.