Program Director Interviews, Match, Medical Students

Program Director Interview with Sarah Temple, M.D., FACEP, Residency Program Director for Florida State University Emergency Medicine Residency Program at Sarasota Memorial Hospital

In the latest installment of our PD Q&A series, we are highlighting the Florida State University Emergency Medicine Residency program at Sarasta Memorial Hospital. We spoke with the current PD Dr. Sarah Temple about what makes their program unique and what they look for in potential residents.

What sets your program apart from others?

There are many answers to this question, but I will focus on our clinical training environment as the most important thing. We have the patient population of a large academic center despite the fact that we are at a community hospital with and only one other residency. This means that our residents are exposed to the acuity, pathology, and high volume of patients that you would expect at academic programs while not having the innate competitive learning environment that comes with the academic setting. For emergency medicine in particular, we feel this is a huge advantage because from a procedural standpoint and generally for patient care, this mimics the vast majority of emergency departments in a much more realistic way so that every day on shift is direct preparation for their next job after residency. While many programs have off service residents that come to the department to do procedures and evaluate patients real time, our residents function as the sole provider of care during the ED stay for the majority of patients, which is a very different and beneficial experience for our residents.

What is something students may not know about your program?

An interesting part of our program is that the faculty are employed by a small, physician owned group. This is quite unique as most emergency medicine physicians are employed either directly by the hospital/university or by a large contract management group (CMG) that staffs for hospitals all over a region or even across the nation. This is relevant to our residents for a few reasons. It means that the faculty that work here have sought out this hospital in part to work for this group. There is much less turnover in our group and thus your faculty, than is typical for emergency medicine giving our residents the chance to truly build strong relationships with their faculty. It also means your faculty are all involved in running a business, in contract maintenance with the hospital, in addition to being invested in the residency program and your education. We feel strongly that part of your education should involve the development of leadership skills, an understanding of the business of emergency medicine, and how to be successful in all ways as an emergency physician. We have built this into your rotation schedule in an Admin rotation and in our longitudinal didactic curriculum as well.

What range of USMLE/COMLEX Step 2 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?

I am a big believer in the fact that USMLE/COMLEX scores do not predict a successful resident or a good emergency physician. We have never had filters or minimum scores, even when Step/Comlex 1 was scored and we have always considered quality applicants that had Step/Comlex failures. Like all program directors, I need to ensure that my program maintains a good board passage rate so the Step/Comlex will remain a part of our applicant review. That being said, we do not have minimums for Step/Comlex 2 and will continue to consider quality applicants with failures.

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

We have ample opportunities for research here at SMH. We are fortunate to have a research curriculum that is designed and coordinated by Dr. Sagar Galwankar, a world-renowned emergency medicine physician, known for his contributions and dedication to evidenced based medicine. Our residents have already published multiple original research papers in the short time since our inauguration in 2019. Fortunately, our residents also have ample opportunity to participate in multidisciplinary research opportunities throughout the hospital. Sarasota Memorial is a healthcare system that is dedicated to the advancement of medicine through research, evidenced by their involvement in many multi-center projects and trials. Research experience is not a requirement for matching with our program, as we feel confident that we will provide you with all the tools you will need to add scholarly activity to your skill set.

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

Yes. We are currently considering starting a Global Health Fellowship under the leadership and guidance of our research director, Dr. Galwankar. Like Dr. Galwankar, we have multiple faculty members with international connections and have previously done work with Global Health. Our university backing at Florida State also brings with it international opportunities.

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

It goes without saying that we are looking for all the usual things that make a good Emergency physician-hard worker, team player, decisive, composed under pressure, etc. As mentioned above, all of the faculty sought out this job to specifically work for a small group in which many of us are partners. We tend to be the sort of people that want to be more involved, are deeply invested in our job and our group, and are planning to be here in Sarasota and at this hospital potentially for our entire career. Because of this I think we have naturally sought out the kind of residents that want to be more involved, that are natural leaders, and are the kind of people that seek out new opportunities where they know they can make a difference. And those are the residents that have fit in best with us.

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

We are looking for applicants that are dedicated to the choice of emergency medicine and like us, are invigorated by working in this field. There are many different ways an applicant can stand out to us. Leadership experience, involvement in collegiate sports, prior work experience such as being a scribe, PCT, EMT etc, and a history of volunteering with meaningful and impactful groups are all signs of a hardworking, focused, compassionate team player. Experience at other emergency departments on different away rotations, or in previous jobs, shows us that you are fully invested in your decision to pursue emergency medicine.


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