Med Student, Advising, Match, Program Director Interviews

Program Director Interview Series: Christopher Sampson, MD, FACEP | University of Missouri-Columbia

Our Program Director Interview Series is pleased to feature Christopher Sampson, MD, FACEP, sharing details about the University of Missouri-Columbia Emergency Medicine Residency Program

What sets your program apart from others?
The EM residency at Mizzou is what I like to think of as a hidden gem in the Midwest. We offer a well-balanced Emergency Medicine experience with high patient acuity. I personally was amazed when I arrived here 5 years ago by the amount of trauma that we take care of in the middle of Missouri (18% of our patients). We also have a robust EMS system that includes both ground and helicopter emergency medical services. 

One of our top priorities is making resident education fun and valuable. We have around 50% of our conference time set up as small group learning and flipped classroom models. Simulation is also very important to us and is regularly part of resident teaching. The other nice thing about our location is the very affordable standard of living.

What are the benefits of attending a 3- vs. 4-year EM residency program?
I think sometimes people expend a whole lot of energy on the 3 vs. 4 year debate. I am unique in that I did a 4-year residency, worked at one as faculty, and then left to start a 3-year residency program. I think the EM experiences are going to be very similar. I think 3-year residencies are preferable if you are going to do fellowship. In the end, I advise all my medical students to choose the place they feel is the best fit and not worry about the 3- vs 4-year timeframe.

What is something students may not know about your program?
People may think that because of our location we only take care of farmers. We actually serve a very diverse group of patients and take care of many underserved populations. Also here at Mizzou, our residents have a big hand in planning and running their residency. Anything from developing their block schedules to creating their own electives to planning graduation, retreat, and wellness events, our residents have a part in it. We also send our residents to an academic meeting each year. The interns go to the regional SAEM Great Plains meeting, the second-years go to the national SAEM meeting, and our third-years attend ACEP Scientific Assembly. 

What range of USMLE/COMLEX Step 1 scores do you look for in an applicant for the program?
I think USMLE/COMLEX scores are important because they do predict your test-taking ability. That being said, we do not use strict cutoffs and understand everyone can have a bad day. We tend to use the holistic approach, and look for improvement between Step 1 and Step 2 CK. I have been pleasantly surprised at some amazing residents who would have otherwise not been considered by other residencies because of low board scores.

What opportunities for research exist? Do you look for residency candidates with research experience?
This is a great time for those interested in research here. We just hired a full-time PhD research director who is highly motivated and will take our program to the next level. We require a scholarly project of our residents, but many opportunities exist for residents to help faculty. Currently, our main focus has been on simulation and education research. Another unique aspect of our program is that we have 2 full-time clinical pharmacists who absolutely love doing research and work with almost all of our residents on their research projects. 

Do you have opportunities to explore global health at your institution?
Dr. Adam Beckett is the founder of Global First Responder (GRF), which acts as a centralized network for relief work worldwide with a focus both on health care delivery and health education as improvements in community infrastructure. If interested, our residents have the opportunity to rotate at a hospital in Saint Marc, Haiti, through GFR. 

What are some qualities your program looks for in applicants?
I want my residents to wake up every day, wanting to go to work and be happy they chose Emergency Medicine. I don’t expect them to know everything, but having an open mind to learn and compassion toward patients are the two most important things to bring to work. You have to remember we are caring for people, often on some of the worst days of their lives.

Interested in learning more about the University of Missouri-Columbia Emergency Medicine Residency Program? Get details!

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