The Department of Emergency Medicine at the Ohio State University recently established the Richard N. Nelson Distinguished Alumni Award in honor of Richard “Rick” Nelson, MD. The department will present the award annually to a graduate of the Ohio State University Emergency Medicine Residency or Fellowship Programs who has distinguished them self with significant contributions to the specialty of Emergency Medicine.
Dr. Nelson has had a rich and prominent career at Ohio State. Upon his faculty appointment in 1981, he became the first physician in Central Ohio to have graduated from an emergency medicine residency training program in the newly established specialty of Emergency Medicine.
Dr. Nelson has served in numerous leadership positions locally, regionally, and nationally. He helped establish and led the Emergency Medicine Residency Program at Ohio State and later served as the department’s Medical Director and Vice Chair of Clinical Affairs for a number of years. He also established the OSU Hyperbaric Medicine program and was a founding member of Central Ohio Trauma Systems. Dr. Nelson served as President of the Columbus Medical Association and the Ohio Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians.
In 2011, Dr. Nelson was elected President of the American Board of Emergency Medicine (ABEM), the main certifying body for emergency physicians in the U.S. There he also served as Chair of the Initial Certification Task Force. In these roles Dr. Nelson led the effort to modernize ABEM’s examination program; its first major upgrade since its inception in 1979. Under Dr. Nelson’s leadership, the ABEM Examination Program with its innovative technology attracted the attention of other board certifying and educational programs throughout the United States and around the world.
After 34 years of leadership in emergency medicine and service to Ohio State, Dr. Nelson transitioned to emeritus faculty status on December 31, 2014. As Emeritus Professor, he continues to work in OSUMC emergency departments, AfterHours Care Clinics, and Physician Advisor program. He continues to speak and publish articles about the ABEM testing innovations and continues to serve ABEM as an examiner and oral exam writer.