Program Director Interviews, Match, Medical Students

Program Director Interview Series: Josh Mugele, MD | EM Residency Program Director at Northeast Georgia Medical Center, Gainesville, GA

This month our Program Director Interview Series gets to know a newly accredited program in Georgia. We got to talk with Dr. Josh Mugele about his program at Northeast Georgia Medical Center.

Congratulations on the new accreditation! Could you tell us some of the basics about Northeast Georgia Medical Center?

We’re a large community hospital system about an hour northeast of Atlanta. We serve 18 counties, but our main county is Hall County. We currently have internal medicine, surgery, and family medicine residencies in place and are seeking to start OB and psychiatry residencies too. Our residents will rotate at our two main hospitals in Gainesville and Braselton with a combined ED volume of about 150,000 visits a year. We’re a level 2 trauma center (seeking level 1) and our departments are very high acuity — lots of sick patients, lots of procedures, and lots of admissions. The faculty all belong to an independent, democratic group called Georgia Emergency Department Services (GEDS) — no large, corporate, contract management groups here. We’re all heavily invested in the success of our hospital, our community, and most of all, our new residency. Residents will work hard here, but learn a great deal from their patients.

Last year we wrote an article on why someone might consider training at a new program. We've seen a number of new programs in the past few years, so if someone is considering new programs, why specifically Northeast Georgia Medical Center?

The reason I came to Georgia was to start a new program, to build it in a way that would conform to principles, to really put my stamp on something new that would last for generations. Residents coming to a new program have an opportunity to do the same. Build something new, shape their residency for generations to come. But more than the newness of the program, residents who come here will receive a top-notch, mission-driven education. We have built our entire curriculum and program around a set of core values that inform everything we do:

  • Respect for diversity
  • Resident ownership of the educational process
  • Honesty, integrity, and transparency
  • Clinical education as the bedrock of emergency medicine
  • Pushing ourselves outside our comfort zone — striving for excellence
  • A strong family feel

When your first class graduates in 2025, how will you, as program director, measure your success?

We’ll be successful if we graduate a full class of competent, compassionate physicians who we would feel comfortable caring for members of our own family. Additionally, we hope to provide our residents with a well-rounded education to prepare them to be able work in any clinical environment world-wide and to have a long and fulfilling career.

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

We will be looking at applications holistically and won’t have any exam cutoffs or expectations.

What kinds of research is happening at Northeast Georgia Medical Center, and how do you envision residents getting involved? Will you look for residency candidates with research experience?

To be honest, we’re building our research capabilities ourselves, so the sky’s the limit! Residents have the opportunity to pursue any projects they might be interested in! Some of our recent faculty additions include faculty who are fellowship trained in simulation, population health research, ultrasound, EMS, and pediatrics. In addition, we have strong administrators of our group and our observation unit. These areas are ripe for study.

Again, we would love to have residents who have passion for scholarly research (and we have the resources to support them), but we look at applications holistically to see who would be the best fit.

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

We do! We have connections through our faculty in various Latin American countries, in Nepal, and in Kenya. We just need residents interested in pursuing global health opportunities to be the trailblazers in defining what these opportunities might look like. We are actively seeking ways to help with funding for travel during elective rotations as well.

What kind of applicant will find success at Northeast Georgia Medical Center?

The best applicants will be ones who can work hard, learn from their mistakes, take and give feedback, participate in a broad residency family, but most importantly someone who can come in with ideas and who can work with others to put their ideas into practice. We want residents who will be much more than passive learners but who want to make an impact on their residency and on future generations of residents.

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

We want a diverse group of well-rounded applicants who have demonstrated that they can work efficiently in a busy clinical environment, who can work with a team, and who have the potential to be leaders and change-makers in emergency medicine.

To learn more about the program at Northeast Georgia Medical Center, visit their website, or register for one of their upcoming information sessions!

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