Program Director Interview Series: Nicholas Connors, MD, FACEP Program Director at Trident Medical Center Emergency Medicine Residency Program

In the latest installment of our PD Q&A series, we are highlighting the Trident Medical Center Emergency Medicine Residency Program. We spoke with the current PD Dr. Nicholas, MD, about what makes his program unique and what he looks for in potential residents.

What sets your program apart from others?

EM training at Trident Medical Center prepares residents for a career in busy community environments practicing at the top of their knowledge and abilities. Our main sites are Trident and Summerville Medical Centers, and there are several other sites within close proximity that expose residents to different populations and varied ED capabilities.

We are located where the rest of the country comes to vacation - in the South Carolina Lowcountry. Downtown Charleston, the surrounding beaches, an amazing county park system, great restaurants and nightlife, and a world of recreational activities draw visitors all year long and provide plenty for our residents to do when not working.

What are the benefits of attending a 3 vs. 4 year EM residency program?

Our program aims to train future community EM docs, which can be accomplished in three years. Our residents understand that there will always be more to learn and that professional development is a career-long endeavor. For those interested in fellowship, 3-year programs allow the resident to complete their EM requirements and move on to fellowship expeditiously.

There are significant regional differences in expectations for EM training, and in the Southeast, where our residents are generally interested in practicing following graduation, three years of residency training is standard.

What is something students may not know about your program?

Charleston is an absolutely wonderful place to start and raise a family. One of the most exciting things about the last two years since the inception of our program was the addition of five children born to residents or their spouses. We really pride ourselves on being able to support our trainees through these wonderful, but taxing life events, working with the resident to build their rotation and shift schedules to meet their academic and family needs.

How do you feel about the change to pass/fail Step 1 grading?

Pass/fail grading of Step 1 makes sense as it was never as predictive of clinical success as Step 2. While much of the stress of Step 1 will likely bleed over to Step 2, at the very least this is a more useful tool. At TMC, we look at standardized tests as one piece of an application but weigh other areas, such as SLOEs and medical school rotation evaluations, much more heavily.

What kinds of opportunities for research exist? Do you look for residency candidates with research experience?

Our faculty are experts in quality improvement and systems design to optimize patient care and ED flow and numerous opportunities are made available to make the ED more efficient. TMC residents also have access to the HCA database of all patient encounters nationally for research questions that can be answered through a retrospective enquiry. Assistance with IRB approval, study design, analysis, and writing are available. Prior research is not a requirement for applicants.

Do you have opportunities to explore global health at your institution?

We are developing opportunities for residents to learn about Global EM and practice internationally with partner organizations.

What are some qualities that your program looks for in applicants?

Residency training at TMC requires trainees to be hard-working and open to formative feedback while remaining compassionate to patients and kind to their colleagues. A demonstrated ability to communicate professionally and empathetically will be important throughout the physician's career and is a highly sought-after quality we hope to identify in applicants and recruit.

Can you describe any attributes and qualities that make applicants stand out?

We are most interested in applicants whose evaluations from medical student rotations describe someone who is industrious, communicates well with the team, and shows compassion. If students have additional experiences that demonstrate these attributes, they should be highlighted in the application in areas such as the personal statement and experiences and then reiterated at the interview.


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