History of University of New Mexico Emergency Medicine

The following history of the department was provided by Drs. Paul Roth, David Sklar and Michael Richards at the department of emergency medicine, strategic planning retreat in September of 2012.

Dr. Roth provided the initial history of the department beginning with the establishment of the UNM School of Medicine in 1962. Governor King, created the EMS Bureau and the EMS Academy in 1971. The need for EMS education led to the creation of the Department of family, community and emergency medicine in the 1970s. Dr. Galbreath, was the first chief of the division of emergency medicine. He was eventually replaced by Dr. George Schwartz, who was the second chief of the division. Dr. Roth was hired by Dr. Schwartz, and when Dr. Schwartz eventually left the department. Dr. Roth took over the job as division chief in 1982. Dr. Roth hired additional faculty into the department, including Dr. David Sklar, and Dr. David Doezema. Their strategic plan was to become a department and start a residency program. The emergency medicine residency program was started in 1986 and the division of emergency medicine, became a full department in 1990. Dr. Sapien joined the faculty 1991 and began the development of the pediatric emergency medicine program. The residency program, and the department research missions helped to support the ongoing growth of the department. Dr. Roth became the interim Dean when Dr. Napolitano left and he was eventually appointed to the permanent Dean position, by Dr. Peck, the University President in 1994.

Dr. David Sklar became the second chair of the department in 1995 and was department chair until 2007. Dr. Sklar introduced a number of innovative concepts in emergency medicine, including the idea that emergency medicine has a strong connection to the community, and that Humanism and Ethics are critical pieces of the physicians skills set. He also felt that injury prevention is strongly within the domain of emergency medicine. He continued the growth of the department as a nationally known center for disaster medicine, and international health. Dr. Sklar commented on the unique values and perspectives of the department as well as those of the state of New Mexico. Starting in the year 2000 the department began to have issues with Hospital crowding and a more challenging clinical environment. Dr. Sklar suggested that the continuing challenges of the clinical environment, and emergency department crowding, along with changes in the health care system will continue to be the forefront of work for the department of emergency medicine.

Dr. Richards became chair of the department in 2007 after Dr. Sklar stepped down from the position. The year 2007 was marked by significant changes for the department, including moving into the new clinical space in the Barbara and Bill Richardson Pavilion. Dr. Richards talked about the importance of having a solid understanding of your values, which lead to your vision, and finally to your mission and plan. Dr. Richards reviewed the last department strategic plan which was developed in 2007. The clinical portion of the plan included developing an electronic medical record, a new clinical work flow, reopening the observation unit, possibly building a hospital in Sandoval County, co-management of the emergency department with the hospital Executive Director’s. In addition, there were goals about improving coding, increasing coverage in the pediatric ED and integrating mid levels into the clinical practice. In the area of education, the department set out to develop additional Fellowships, a physician assistants residency, and become more involved with providing educational services to the military programs in New Mexico. The research plan included re working resident research training and developing a more robust clinical trials program. Finally, there was a vision of developing a larger more comprehensive building, which would include space for all of the programs and developing a leadership team, which would help manage the tactical and strategic operations of the department. Dr. Richards reports that in many of these areas the department has seen great success over the last 5 years.