Match, Program Director Interviews, Medical Students

PD interview with Dr Christopher Freeman at University of Miami/Jackson Health System Emergency Medicine Residency in Miami, FL

In the latest installment of our PD Q&A series, we are highlighting theUniversity of Miami/Jackson Health System Emergency Medicine Residency in Miami, FL. We spoke with the current PD Dr. Christopher Freeman, MD, about what makes his program unique and what he looks for in potential residents.

What sets your program apart from others?

There are so many things that set our program apart from the rest. Our home institution, Jackson Memorial Hospital, is the primary academic site for the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Jackson Memorial is one of the largest public hospitals in the country and serves our population in Miami as both a safety net hospital and an academic center for excellence. As a county program, we are committed to the health of our community and have an active social emergency medicine program. Our social emergency medicine program focuses on community outreach, social justice, optimizing the care of individuals in need, and the health of our diverse Miami-Dade population.

What separates us from other county hospitals is our affiliation with our community site Holy Cross Hospital. We know many EM residents choose to practice in community hospitals, but not all programs give their residents the proper exposure to thrive in those settings. Holy Cross is a high volume/high acuity community hospital with a comprehensive stroke and stemi center. Our residents spend about 3 months during each year of training at Holy Cross to give our residents exposure to the nuisance of practice in community emergency departments.

Combining these fantastic training sites with an innovative curriculum that utilizes different learning modalities, including case-based learning, small groups, and simulation, our graduates are prepared to hit the ground running, whether it be in fellowship, academics, county, or community practice. 

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

While there are certainly merits to both styles, the most significant benefit of a 3-year program is time. Our residents get excellent training in three years and are fully prepared to take on the challenges of our field. Our program allows for enough flexibility to participate in research, global health, and other academic interests while giving our graduates more time in their careers to start practice as an attending or to pursue further academic interests such as fellowship after residency.

What is something students may not know about your program?

We are truly a family. I have been involved in medical education for a long time at various institutions. I have never experienced a group of residents and faculty as close and supportive of each other as ours. One of our goals as program leadership is to support and develop our residents' individual interests. We encourage residents to participate in national organizations, teaching or research courses, externships in business, or other pursuits. We genuinely want our residents to succeed in everything they are passionate about.

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 any set range for standardized testing and employ a holistic approach when selecting applicants for our program. We look for applicants who have a strong track record both academically and in the community. We want residents to be excited by our program's mission and see themselves in our mission. The change to the pass/fail grading system will make it even more essential to find residents with unique attributes that fit well with our program's established culture of teamwork and community involvement.

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

We look for residents who have passion within and outside of emergency medicine. If a candidate is interested in research, then having research experience is great, but it certainly isn't a requirement.

In terms of opportunities, by being a large academic and county program, multiple large research studies are happening in the department at a given time. Several faculty are very active in research and are always looking to get residents involved. Many of our residents have been able to start their own research studies with faculty mentorship or join faculty on their projects. Others have been able to publish case reports, reviews, or narrative articles.

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

Yes, many residents have participated in global health during their training at our institution. One of our attendings routinely takes residents with him when he goes to the refugee camps in Mexico along the US border to provide care. Residents can travel abroad and participate in global health projects during their elective month. For example one of our third years participated in a month-long wilderness medicine course in France!

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

We look for residents who are hard-workers, have integrity, and have a track record of impressive work in their communities. As a county program, we have a big emphasis on social EM and look for residents who truly aim to make a positive impact in our patients’ lives and in the greater Miami and Fort Lauderdale communities. We want residents with a growth mindset who are interested in becoming excellent EM physicians.  We are also looking for residents who will graduate from our program and be leaders in the field, so having some leadership experience is always a plus.

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