Program Director Interviews, Match, Medical Students

Program Director Interview Series: Marc-Anthony Q. Velilla, MD | EM Residency Program Director at Detroit Medical Center Sinai-Grace Hospital, Detroit, MI

In this month’s addition to the Program Director Interview Series we got to chat with Marc-Anthony Q. Velilla, MD to learn about the Detroit Medical Center Sinai-Grace Emergency Medicine Residency. Dr. Velilla tells us more about residency in Motor City.

What sets your program apart from others?

Each program may not be as unique as we all think (as there are so many great programs), so please take a close look at all programs that you are really interested in as it is in the subtleties where you will find what truly sets us apart. One of the big things that sets us apart is the amount of procedural experience that our residents experience during the 3 years of training. A contributing factor to this is that we are a Level 2 Trauma Center where Emergency Medicine leads the trauma resuscitations (yes, leads and does the procedures) with support of Trauma Surgery. Our residents are not relegated to the airway/head of the bed only or missing half of the procedures throughout the year due to alternating procedure days with other residencies. There are many other characteristics that may attract you to our residency program, so don’t be afraid to reach out and take the time to get to know us.

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

We are a 3 year categorical program. I stand by our ethos and format for education and training of the EM resident as we have been successful in graduating residents who excel in EM both academically and clinically. I also support my colleagues in 4 year programs. Honestly, this question is best answered on a personal level. As a student looking for a program, please make sure that you ask yourself why either type of program will personally benefit you. As you make your lists of positives and negatives (or maybe less positives), be mindful of what you are really looking for in your future as an Emergency Medicine physician. Sorry, not dodging the question, but most students already know what type of program (3 or 4 year) they would like to attend.

What is something students may not know about your program?

A few other things (other than a couple things mentioned in what sets us apart from other programs) that students may not know about us is that:

  • We are affiliated with Wayne State University School of Medicine
  • We are an academic emergency medicine program
    • Fun related fact: we average at least 25% to over 50% of our residents annually pursuing fellowships/academic pursuits in EM
  • We are a “community program in the City of Detroit”
  • Our consultants are available but usually not emergently, so most critical and emergent management is performed by us … EM physicians; this prepares you to enter most any environment of practice after you graduate from residency

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

As this is moving to a PASS/FAIL result, this is less of a concern but make sure you PASS Step 1! Do your best on Step 2. Please remember that this is only 1 aspect of your application and not the most important as we look at multiple factors in your application to determine offers for interview.

Or alternatively, how do you feel about the change to pass/fail Step 1 grading?

This really doesn’t affect our process of looking at applications/candidates as it did not weigh much into our decision making process historically

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

There are many opportunities for research. For those less interested in research, we do not require research as a requirement in completion of residency. There are requirements for Scholarly Activity and QI projects which can involve research if you so chose. We do not specifically look for candidates with research experience. Research experience is another factor in the many factors that we look at when evaluating potential residency candidates

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

Yes. We are fortunate to have a great Global Health Fellowship at Wayne State University Emergency Medicine with a great group of faculty led by the Fellowship Director, Dr. Kristiana Kaufmann. There is also a great curriculum offered through WSU SOM to residents interested in pursuing Global Health. The curriculum is called GLUE (Global & Urban Health Equity) Program.

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

It may not be glamorous, but what I say to candidates each year when they ask this question is “look at yourself in the mirror and look at all of your colleagues who are interested in and working in Emergency Medicine … you are all so talented and capable and are the ones we are looking for”. This is to really say that all of you are real candidates for our residency. We look at many factors to help us decide on making offers for interview, so be honest and share as much of yourself (as you feel comfortable) with us in your personal statement and throughout your application.

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

All of you are hard working, committed, talented and capable. So, the more you are able to share yourself in your application, the better it is for us in making interview offers (as it is becoming more challenging each year as the quality of students interested in EM is increasingly impressive!)

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