Program Director Interviews, Match, Medical Students, Advising

Program Director Interview Series: Danielle Turner-Lawrence, MD, Residency Program Director at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, Michigan

Amanda Amen, MSIV, Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine 
EMRA MSC Midwest Coordinator 2019-20

This month our Program Director Interview Series is focused on the Midwest. We spoke with Danielle Turner-Lawrence, MD, Program Director at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, about the training opportunities available at this busy Level 1 Trauma Center in eastern Michigan.

What sets your program apart from others?

Beaumont Royal Oak Emergency Medicine Residency Program (Beaumont Main) has a long history of exceptional EM training in a hybrid academic and community setting that prepares residents to become outstanding clinicians and future leaders. Our department sees the highest patient volume in the state - and among the highest in the country - with almost 130,000 annual patient visits. The diversity of our patient population is second-to-none, drawing from affluent Oakland County, to blue collar workers, to indigent patients from the inner city. So our residents are capable of practicing in any setting upon graduation. Our residency places a strong emphasis on critical care training and we do this within a supportive teaching environment. Our residents also benefit from having fellowships in ultrasound, geriatric, and pediatric emergency medicine.

What are the benefits of attending a 3- vs. 4-year EM residency program?

Residents graduating from 3-year programs are ready to practice independently, competently and comfortably with the amount of experience and exposure gained over the 36-month training period. Most 3-year EM programs offer elective experiences and longitudinal training opportunities, which allow for creation of a niche during the 3-year training period. Residents who wish to gain further expertise in the fields of research, ultrasound, administration, geriatrics and pediatric EM may apply for fellowship opportunities. Many of these fellowship opportunities are available within the Beaumont Health System. For those applicants who seek immediate post-graduate employment opportunities within a department which houses a 4-year training program, attendance at a 4-year program or the addition of a fellowship is likely to be required. Also, those residents who feel an added year of experience will provide additional confidence and expertise within specific niche areas may consider a 4-year program.

What is something students may not know about your program?

Our residents are exposed to our most critically ill patients on day one of training. Early access to critically ill patients lends to procedural confidence, increased autonomy and exposure. 

Another unique aspect of our EM training program is our focus on Health Care Disparities (HCD). Our longitudinal HCD curriculum with didactic and simulation experiences along with community opportunities and hospital-wide electives provides a unique community experience to further understand social determinants of health.

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

We look for applicants who have demonstrated a strong academic performance. The USMLE Step 1 score is used as one marker for this performance. Ideally, Step 1 scores are at or above the national mean, but we do not have a specific cutoff.  Each application receives a thorough and holistic review. This allows us to understand the context of the USMLE scores in light of other markers of academic success.

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

Beaumont Main has a myriad of research opportunities along with a large number of faculty and residents with active projects and funding. For those interested in research, internal and external grant funding is available along with assistance from our dedicated EM research staff composed of research nurses, a dedicated biostatistician, undergraduate Oakland University students and ancillary staff. This team assists in carrying out investigator and industry-initiated research endeavors. Many of our residents participate in clinical research or education focused projects. Funding for regional and national research presentations by residents is highly valued by residency administration and financially supported by our department and alumni education fund. Each resident is tasked with completion of a scholarly activity project during residency training and many choose to pursue clinical research. Residents are paired with faculty research mentors of their choosing and supported to take on and complete a project.

Medical student applicants are encouraged to be involved in scholarly projects based on their interests. Having done research in the past is not required of our applicants. Prior research experiences are considered along with many other opportunities for EM applicants to display interest and gain further understanding of EM.

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

Yes! We have had a number of residents embark on global health experiences and we encourage those residents with an interest in this area to pursue electives abroad. Residents have two elective time periods which work well for global health elective experiences. Additionally, the use of Graduate Medical Education funds that residents receive throughout their training for educational resources may be applied to a global health experience and travel. Each year we have several residents that participate in overseas elective experiences to broaden their understanding of global health.

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

We look for smart, motivated and kind applicants with diverse backgrounds who are passionate about emergency medicine and who will thrive in a fast-paced, hands-on training program. We are particularly interested in finding those individuals who are looking to take advantage of the many opportunities that exist within our training program. Those applicants who have significant involvement in volunteer experiences, research, or academic pursuits, which exemplify leadership qualities that result in a lasting impact on their medical school, are particularly sought after. 

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

Aside from excellence in academic and leadership activities, several positive traits can make you a memorable applicant on the interview trail. These traits include outward enthusiasm for both the specialty and the program with which you are interviewing. In addition, being able to confidently and comfortably discuss your experiences along with showcasing a positive attitude will demonstrate resilience, a very important trait to have for success in residency. Lastly, those who share their diverse backgrounds and unique stories can leave a lasting impression. Specifically, an applicant’s ability to connect their personal experiences to their short and long term goals helps to showcase maturity, insight and self-awareness.