Program Director Interviews

Program Director Interview Series: Melissa White, MD | EM Residency Program Director at Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA

In this month’s addition to the Program Director Interview Series we got to chat with Melissa White, MD to learn about the Emory Emergency Medicine Residency Program.

What sets Emory's EM residency program apart from others?

The next generation of Emergency Medicine leaders emerge from our residency program with the skills, clinical knowledge, and compassion to provide the highest quality care for patients. Our focus on Diversity and Inclusion is an overriding theme in the four pillars of the residency: Education, Research/Scholarship, Wellness/Resiliency, and Service/Advocacy. We are one of the largest 3-year programs in the country and have 19 residents in the regular match and from 0-3 in a funded match (residents have financial support from the military or sponsoring country). Thus, we have an extraordinarily diverse residency program that represents our community and the world that we serve. Faculty are also diverse and from training programs across the country. They serve as resident mentors and national experts on topics within Emergency Medicine. Finally, our residents train within an academic institution (Emory University Clifton), a community hospital (Emory Midtown Hospital), one of the largest county hospitals in the country (Grady Memorial), and premier children's hospitals (Children’s Hospital of Atlanta). We have the best of many worlds when it comes to our outstanding training sites and the community that is created by living in Atlanta.

What are the benefits of attending a three- vs. a four-year EM residency program?

With the large patient volume and diverse pathology found within the Emory Healthcare system, Grady Hospital, and Children's Hospital of Atlanta (CHOA), residents are exposed to all aspects of EM in three years. With this educational and clinical experience, residents may then opt to enter fellowships, academics, or community practice with ease.

What is something students may not know about your program?

We are a big family that supports and embraces our differences, successes, and struggles. When you leave, we like to say we are, "EMoryproudGradymade.” Check out all the interesting things our residents are doing on our "Meet Our Residents" page.

What range of USMLE/COMLEX Step 1 scores do you look for in an applicant for the program?

We understand that a snapshot score on one testing day may not represent your ability to excel in our program, so we look at all ranges of USMLE/COMLEX scores.

Do you look for residency candidates with research experience? What kinds of opportunities for research exist for residents in your program?

Emory EM has a robust research section you can check out here. One of our Assistant Program Directors, Dr. Anwar Osborne, spearheads the resident research and scholarly work experiences. While research experience is encouraged for applicants, it is not mandatory.

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

Residents may explore Global Health opportunities on the Emergency Medicine Resident Global Health Pathway and within Emory's GME tracks. In the past, we sponsored a number of residents to complete an international rotation selective. However, due to COVID-19, these international experiences are on hold. You can learn more about Global Health and our other residency pathways here.

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

We look for prospective residents who will fit in with our mission, vision, and values. Our ideal candidates are gritty, intelligent, empathic, and vision/action focused leaders.

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

You must be true to yourself and the uniqueness that you bring during the interview process. Your passion for what excites you in EM will translate into your application and during your interview day.

How has COVID-19 impacted training and how has your program adapted?

We are still adapting. One thing about Emergency Medicine is that we always answer the call as front-line workers, and we do it selflessly. As the PD, I am very protective of the residents, and my goal was (and is) to keep them safe while balancing education and service needs. At this time, we remain virtual in our Tuesday conferences with a few exceptions where hands on training is essential (Airway and Cadaver labs). Class days remain virtual. All rotations have returned to their normal functions.

If you could describe the culture of Emory EM in three words, which three would best represent your program?

Rigorous, Excellence, and Proud

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