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Program Director Interview Series: Andrew Perron, MD | Maine Medical Center Emergency Medicine Residency Program

Next up in our Program Director Interview Series is Andrew Perron, MD, sharing details about the Maine Medical Center Emergency Medicine Residency Program. Dr. Perron tells us more about EM in The Pine Tree State. 

What sets your program apart from others?

We have a pretty unique set-up at Maine Medical Center (MMC). We are the only level 1 trauma center in the state and the only tertiary care teaching hospital. We run the only transplant program, the only children’s cancer program, and the only LVAD program in the state. Additionally, we are the only comprehensive stroke center north of Providence, RI. While we provide this tertiary/quaternary care to northern New England, we also serve as the community hospital for the largest city in Maine. This combination ensures that on any given shift, a resident will use their “whole” Emergency Medicine skill set.

What is something students may not know about your program, or about Portland, Maine?

Our residency program is “unopposed” in the areas of Orthopedics, ENT, and Ophthalmology, meaning that there are no residencies here in those specialties. As a result, our residents are “doers” and not “callers” for fracture reductions and dislocations, peritonsillar abscesses, and ophthalmology procedures. Regarding Portland, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow described it as “The jewel by the sea.” This year, we were named Bon Appetite’s restaurant city of the year. There is an amazing foodie culture here that is paralleled by the amazing microbrewery scene. There are pro sports, a thriving art scene, sand beaches, and innumerable trails nearby to town for hiking, biking, and exploring.

What is the training environment like at your institution?

There are about 250 residents and fellows training in a variety of specialties, and about 150 medical students doing their core and elective rotations. We are aligned with Tufts Medical School via the Tufts – Maine Track. Students do their first two years of medical school at Tufts in Boston and their final two years with us in Portland. Since we are essentially the tertiary care referral center for the state, our inpatient population generally has extremely high acuity. Our Medical, Surgical, Neuro, and Pediatric ICUs are always full with a waiting list across the state to send patients. As a consequence, our residents (who rotate in 5.5 months of ICU across the three years) graduate with great confidence and competence in caring for the sickest of the sick patients.

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

Our residents (and faculty) are very successful in academic pursuits. As an example, our graduating class of 2018 (eight residents) finished the program with seven peer-reviewed publications, 13 regional and national presentations, and two international presentations. We have a PhD on our faculty who helps residents ask appropriate research questions, and has the research skills to help the resident bring the project to fruition. Regarding prior research experience, our philosophy is that it is great if you have it, but if not we can get you there with the infrastructure and projects we have here at MMC.

Do you have opportunities to explore global health at your institution? What other electives are available for residents?

Yes. About 20-30% of our graduates go abroad using their elective time. We have a relationship with a hospital and training program in Uganda, so that is a popular option. That said, our residents have been to South Africa, Vietnam, Tibet, South America, Malawi, Fiji, and Hawaii for elective time. Locally, some recent electives have included working with the homeless health program, flying with Lifeflight of Maine, advanced ultrasound, and spending additional time working with our community hospital partner, Southern Maine Health Center.

What are some qualities that your program looks for in applicants? Can you describe any attributes and qualities that make applicants stand out?

While boards, grades, and letters are (obviously) important, we look for people who have shown dedication over a long period of time to a particular area (putting in Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours it takes to get really good at something). It can be a sport, an artistic pursuit, research, business, etc. Graduate medical education is a marathon, not a sprint. We want to see people who can put in the long hours and effort it will take to get “great” at this job.

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