An urgent conversation on the ‘safety net of medicine’

Marco Coppola, D.O.’89, FACEP, and Kevin Klauer, D.O.’92, EJD, FACEP
Marco Coppola, D.O.’89, FACEP, and Kevin Klauer, D.O.’92, EJD, FACEP

DMU Magazine recently talked with Marco Coppola, D.O.’89, FACEP, and Kevin Klauer, D.O.’92, EJD, FACEP, who are serving two-year terms as speaker and vice speaker, respectively, of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) Council. This deliberative assembly brings to ACEP the collective wisdom and counsel of its chartered chapters, sections, the Emergency Medicine Residents’ Association, the Association of Academic Chairs in Emergency Medicine, the Council of Emergency Medicine Residency Directors and the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine.

Coppola is academic chair and program director of the emergency medicine residency program at John Peter Smith Health Network in Fort Worth, TX; adjunct clinical professor of emergency medicine at the University of North Texas Health Science Center, Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine, Fort Worth; and deputy surgeon of the Texas Medical Brigade, Texas State Guard.

Klauer is chief medical officer at Emergency Physicians Ltd., a physician-owned group practice in Canton, OH; director of the Center for Emergency Medicine Education; and assistant clinical professor at the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine, East Lansing.

Coppola: I think academic emergency medicine is in one’s blood. My father was a pathologist, my mother was a physiatrist and both taught residents and medical students. I always enjoyed working with students, watching them learn and grow. It gives me a sense of pride playing a role in someone’s professional maturation.

Klauer: I was a paramedic and firefighter before medical school. I remember calling into the emergency department and realizing the physician didn’t understand what we were doing. I can’t answer to people who don’t understand what patients go through in a medical emergency.

As a DMU student, I was a volunteer firefighter for the Windsor Heights Fire Department and ran a volunteer paramedic service, County Paramedic Assist. We had two SUVs working with the volunteer fire departments to turn their basic life support systems into advanced life support systems.

Coppola: ACEP is the leading organization in emergency medicine. It advocates for its physicians. They’re the smartest people I’ve ever worked with. I’m proud to be part of its leadership.

Klauer: I agree. It’s important to interact within the profession and to give back what I’ve gained.

Coppola: The council is ACEP’s version of Congress. It’s the 350-member deliberative body that guides the focus of the college for the upcoming year.

Klauer: [With health care reform’s efforts to expand access to the uninsured,] I would like to welcome the world to what emergency medicine has been dealing with for years. We’re the safety net of medicine, with many unfunded mandates. No matter what people’s health care coverage is, they can get care in the emergency room. Despite some negative perceptions, the ER is not a bad place to start; we can sort out where people should go. And emergency medicine makes up less than two percent of health care costs.

Coppola: Not only are we inexpensive, we’re also the most efficient. Ninety-nine percent of my patients I’ve never seen before; we need to diagnose and treat them in 10 minutes. We treat everybody, see everybody, 24-seven. The emergency physician is often the go-to in the hospital. It gives you pride.

Klauer: If you’re stranded on a desert island and you’re going to need medical help, who do you want? The emergency physician.

We want students to consider emergency medicine as a specialty. Every day you get to see patients for the first time, before anyone else does. It’s very procedurally oriented with a lot of complex decision-making. You need to be able to think on your feet.

Coppola: I’m biased – emergency medicine is the most intellectually stimulating field in medicine. And it’s also the most fun. The emergency physician is part of a team with nurses, paramedics, clerks, other doctors, technicians. We’re very social animals.

Klauer: I’m very social and he’s an animal. Marco and I met through the Emergency Medicine Residents’ Association.

Coppola: It’s a privilege and honor for us to work together. I’m also very proud that the speaker and vice speaker of the ACEP Council, the largest emergency medical organization in the world, are DMU grads.

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