Program Director Interviews

Program Director Interview Series: Richard Bounds, MD, FACEP | University of Vermont

In this installment of the Program Director Interview Series, Richard Bounds, MD, FACEP, offers an overview of the up-and-coming EM residency at the University of Vermont.

What sets your program apart from others?
The first and most obvious thing that will set us apart for this year’s applicants is that we are a new EM program. Our inaugural class will be given the opportunity of a lifetime – to help shape and lay the foundation for our program, and, honestly, for emergency care delivery across the state of Vermont. 

We believe that the University of Vermont (UVM) Program will represent the ideal training environment for the student who wants to become a confident, independent emergency physician, who feels comfortable working in any setting. Residents will spend most of the intern year at University of Vermont Medical Center (UVMMC), Vermont’s only academic tertiary referral Level 1 Trauma center, gaining experience with patients of the highest acuity and complexity. With this foundation, residents in their second and third years will spend more time in our rural and community EDs and take advantage of our opportunities in global health, wilderness medicine, EMS, and point-of-care ultrasound. We aim to provide a “best of both worlds” program: outstanding teaching and scholarly opportunities in our robust academic center combined with an emphasis on rural/community EM and the provision of care in resource-limited environments.

And let’s not forget that this is Burlington, Vermont. There really is no better place on earth!

What is something students may not know about your program?
Students might expect that a new program would be made up of a bunch of community doctors who don’t know anything about teaching or resident education. However, the EM faculty at UVM actually consists of a dynamic group of individuals who have been teaching and training students and off-service residents in the ED for decades. We are one of the most academically productive specialties in our institution, with over 40 peer-reviewed publications from 2015-2017, a robust research associates program, and speaking engagements with ACEP, EMRAP, and Essentials of EM. And this is all without an EM residency! With the announcement of our accreditation, we have hired 8 new faculty members, all of whom are fellowship-trained and excited to work with EM residents. For nearly any niche a student wishes to explore, we will provide a faculty mentor with training in that subspecialty.

What kinds of opportunities for research exist? Do you look for residency candidates with research experience?
Residents are not expected to be proficient researchers upon entering our program. If an applicant has been involved with research and/or publications, then that certainly demonstrates skills in organization, teamwork, and follow-through on tasks, while also setting them up for success with their residency scholarly project. For our residents, a cadre of expert researchers and mentors are available, including EM faculty members receiving NIH funding, serving on the institution’s IRB, and reviewing for highly-ranked journals. A staff statistician will help with research planning and statistical analysis. Residents have access to our EM Research Associates Program, a service that assists in enrolling subjects for clinical research in the Emergency Department.

Do you have opportunities to explore global health at your institution?
Absolutely! Three of our core faculty are dedicated to global health and serve as leaders here at UVM, regionally, and internationally. They currently participate in experiences in Central America, South America, Southeast Asia, and Africa. Residents in our program will have up to 8 weeks of elective time that can be used toward global health activities. Opportunities will include mentorship, teaching, field experience, research, and even partnership with major international health policy and advocacy organizations.

What do you think will be some of your program’s biggest strengths during its first year and what challenges do you anticipate?
The 6 residents who join us in July of 2019 will have about 30 faculty members dedicated to their training. That’s a lot of individual attention and mentorship. The Thursday didactics may actually have more faculty than residents! More importantly, these new residents will be walking into an institution that is incredibly excited to have them. As an academic medical center with just about every other specialty training program, our EM residency is long overdue. There is a lot of energy and enthusiasm at our hospital, and really across the entire state of Vermont. We are confident that this program will enhance emergency care delivery here at UVMMC and at our community hospitals. (We are seeing that already, as most of our new hires are taking split positions, working both at UVMMC and our community affiliates.)

The challenge that comes with that enthusiasm and attention is that our first class of residents may feel some pressure to excel. They may feel like the expectations are high, and that they are “under the microscope.” There won’t be any senior residents they can go to for advice, and it might be difficult to just stay under the radar. In our EDs and on off-service rotations, this first class will set the tone and the future expectations for our residency program for many years to come. But our faculty are motivated to guide and mentor these residents, with a focus on wellness and a “coaching” philosophy. For those students who are up to this challenge, it’s an incredible opportunity!

What are some of the benefits of being part of a new residency program?
The first class will truly help to shape the UVM residency program, creating our brand, influencing our reputation, and building the foundation for future trainees. The faculty and program leadership will be constantly asking them for feedback, for everything from bedside teaching to simulation exercises to resident retreats. This class will have the opportunity to share ideas, innovate, and work as a team to create a legacy.

Interested in learning more about the University of Vermont Emergency Medicine Residency Program? Get details!

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