Medical Students, Program Director Interviews, Match

Program Director Interview Series: Ramin Tabatabai, MD | EM Residency Program Director at LAC+USC, Los Angeles, CA

What sets the LAC+USC's EM residency program apart from others?

The EM residency training program at LAC+USC began in 1971 and is one of the oldest and longest-running EM residency programs in the country. The program is dedicated to the mission of our safety-net hospital to provide emergency access to the citizens of Los Angeles County regardless of their ability to pay. We pride ourselves in delivering a high-level of culturally competent care to our patient population. As a large Level I Trauma Center, our residents train in a clinical learning environment that is rich in pathology, acuity, procedural experience, and cultural diversity. The clinical experience is complimented by an equally rich educational experience. Our training philosophy embraces the concept of graduated responsibility to empower junior residents to grow comfortably into the role of confident, autonomous senior residents who possess the leadership skills necessary to handle any clinical scenario. Critical to our mission is the promotion of wellness and resilience among our residents, faculty and supporting staff. Over 700 physicians have graduated from our program – the largest alumni body of emergency medicine specialists both in the United States and internationally. Our family of graduates has excelled in every aspect of the field, and is well represented nationally and internationally in academic medicine, research, subspecialty practice, community leadership, and public service.

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

Our four-year training program allows for a high volume of elective time during residency training. Starting in 2020-2021, residents will have the opportunity to commit to an, “area of study,” to gain valuable scholarly experience in their personal area of interest. By the end of their PGY3 year, our residents have the autonomy and expertise to perform critical procedures and effectively handle critical cases. The resident’s PGY4 year focuses on honing their clinical and professional leadership skills. The PGY4 didactic curriculum focuses heavily on reviewing the literature and evidence of emergency medicine as well as a longitudinal career-planning, financial, and life-preparedness curriculum.

What is something students may not know about your program?

Our program has 6 major aims which are:

  1. to provide exemplary clinical training;
  2. to educate residents utilizing evidence-based, dynamic, and engaging medical education strategies;
  3. to promote a diverse and inclusive residency program that emphasizes a safe and welcoming learning environment;
  4. to foster an environment of wellness, resilience, and positive mental health;
  5. to address our patients’ social determinants by partnering with local community-based organizations;
  6. to provide ample opportunity for professional development throughout the course of a resident’s training.

Every 6 months after PGY1 year, our residents will go on a 3-day retreat to decompress and bond with their classmates during the most challenging times of residency. Residents have the opportunity to participate in various emergency medicine opportunities outside of the ED including a Hyperbaric Chamber training experience at the end of their PGY2 year and participation in events such as the LA Marathon, LA Rams, LA Kings, and USC sports events.

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

N/A. We focus heavily on clinical rotation scores, experiences and attributes of a resident rather than their USMLE Board Scores.

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

We look for medical students who have demonstrated a commitment to service, leadership, or scholarship in an area of interest. For residents interested in research or academics, we are developing a scholarship committee comprised of diverse faculty to provide longitudinal mentorship and support.

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

Yes. Residents can contact our Global Division Faculty to discuss the specifics of global health training at our program

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

We aim to recruit residents who are interested in working in an autonomous, high acuity, high volume clinical learning environment that is dedicated to providing high quality, culturally-competent care for our often marginalized patient population. Humility, compassion, and a strong work ethic are cornerstones of our resident ethos.