In this installment of the Program Director Interview Series we sit down with Radosveta Wells, MD to learn about the EM Residency at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso.
What sets the program at TTUHSC El Paso apart from others?
We work at a true County hospital, located less than 2 miles away from Mexico. The geographic location is incredible, both from an outdoor enthusiast and medical practice point of view. We are the only Level 1 Trauma Center in a large radius, with a catchment area and variety in pathology unlike any other program. Our residents gain significant exposure to a completely different type of medicine that is practiced across the border. This further expands their EM toolbelt and enhances their ability to develop medical Spanish.
The cost of living is very low here, and there are lots of hidden resident salary benefits that are not included in the numbers published - incredible health insurance, food stipend, free parking!
What are the benefits of attending a 3 vs. 4 year EM residency program?
TTUHSC El Paso provides rigorous training that prepares graduates for the challenges of solo EM practice after 3 years. Our residents feel that the 3 year program makes the decision to pursue a fellowship an easier one when they have a subspecialty of interest.
What is something students may not know about your program?
A fun fact is that we are the oldest civilian emergency medicine program in Texas. Beyond that, our residents feel their work-life balance is excellent. With plenty of time off they can pursue hobbies and enjoy family and friends. Wellness is a huge emphasis of the program.
From an educational perspective, we have a state of the art simulation center that hosts monthly simulation education. Our highly advanced simulation program creates one of the best environments to hone skills.
What range of USMLE/COMLEX Step 1 scores do you look for in an applicant for the program?
Though we do not have a hard cutoff, we typically consider candidates whose USMLE/COMLEX scores are within at least 1 standard deviation of average. However, we evaluate the whole application and value candidates with diverse experiences.
What kinds of opportunities for research exist? Do you look for residency candidates with research experience?
There are multiple opportunities for research; everything from case studies to complex multicenter clinical trials, research in the field of simulation, education, and social aspects of EM. Several recent publications have arisen from our participation in the National Emergency Airway Registry. We have faculty members who are dedicated research scientists helping with research and publications. Although we have plenty of opportunities, research experience is not a requirement for residency candidates.
Do you have opportunities to explore global health at your institution?
Given our location serving a bi-national borderland population, global health considerations are present on a daily basis. Currently we do not offer a formal global health rotation.
What are some qualities that your program looks for in applicants?
Humble, hardworking individuals who have a desire to serve an underserved population and embrace the rich culture of our region.
Can you describe any attributes and qualities that make applicants stand out?
High level medical Spanish is a benefit given that monolingual Spanish speaking patients make up a large percentage of our patient population. However, it is not a requirement.