Program Director Interviews, Match, Medical Students

Program Director Interview Series: David Jones, MD, MCR | EM Residency Program Director at Oregon Health & Science University

In this month’s addition to the Program Director Interview Series we got to chat with David Jones, MD, MCR to learn about the OHSU Residency Program. Dr. Jones tells us more about residency in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

What sets your program apart from others?

Our focus is not just preparing you for the job in emergency medicine but preparing you for a career in emergency medicine. It spans everything we do, from didactic sessions around life management (family health, career longevity, financial education, etc) to the sites we rotate at (6 different sites so that you can get a feel for what type of population you would like to work with in the future). That long-term view helps us focus on helping you set good habits early in your career that will sustain you for the duration of your career.

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

There are no clear benefits to attending one vs the other. The three-year program is shorter, the four-year program often provides you with more elective time. There is no difference in board pass rates, malpractice rates, career satisfaction that has been found between the two training durations. Probably more important than length is how you as a student feel about the individual program.

What is something students may not know about your program?

We rotate at 6 different clinical sites to give a broad understanding of different patient populations and systems of care. You rotate at an academic hospital (also the only state-funded hospital in Oregon, so it functions as a safety net), a VA (semi-closed system), Kaiser Health System (a closed system), a wealthy community hospital, a less wealthy community hospital, and a critical access hospital. This breadth of experience exposes our EM residents to over 300,000 visits annually across all the clinical sites, and the catchment basin is all of Oregon, southern Washington, and northern California.

What range of USMLE/COMLEX Step 1 scores do you look for in an applicant for the program? Or alternatively, how do you feel about the change to pass/fail Step 1 grading?

We do not have a specific board score that we look for in our applicants. We evaluate the whole application, and any one data point will not make or break an applicant. Hence, the move to pass/fail on Step 1 will not change the way we assess applications.

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

Our faculty are busy working on research projects that span the breadth of emergency medicine. Whether it is health equity, pre-hospital cardiac arrest, pediatric airways, or physician/nursing communication, our faculty are working on projects across the EM board. We do not specifically look for research experience in our applicants, but we do appreciate it when it is there.

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

As an institution and as a department, we are partnered with Bangkok Dusit Medical Services, a healthcare network in Thailand. This relationship has been ongoing for several years now and has involved groups from each side visiting each other for education and growth purposes. We have a global health track that residents can be part of, where they will regularly work and learn with our global health faculty. Beyond the established global health programs, we have had residents participate in electives the world over.

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

We are looking for hardworking individuals who are going to elevate those around them. Emergency medicine is a team effort and the resident who can function at the top of their education, plus teach the residents, nurses, students, and faculty around them is the ideal candidate. This requires each resident to take control of their education and explore their passion so that they can share that expertise with those around them. The cross-pollination of educational passions by the residents raises everyone’s knowledge base.

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

We want someone who is going to take control of their own education. As a program, we will expose you to everything you need to know to be a good emergency physician. But what I want to see is someone who goes beyond that. Who finds a passion and pursues that passion to become the local expert in that field. If we have every resident pursuing their passion, and all of those passions are shared, we all learn from it and we all become better physicians. We can see from the application when candidates have pursued their education above and beyond what they “have” to do, and have learned what they are excited about.

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