Program Director Interviews

Program Director Interview Series: Alisa Hayes, MD, MSAM | EM Residency Program Director at Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI

In this month’s addition to the Program Director Interview Series we got to chat with Dr. Alisa Hayes to learn about the Emergency Medicine Residency Program at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.

What sets MCW’s residency program apart from others?

Collegiality. We work in an incredibly busy ED and busy hospitals which can be demanding, but everyone is here to help and serve our patients. From the top leaders, to the consultants, and all of the support staff, you will find helpful, friendly and skilled people that make it easy to learn and do good work.

What are the benefits of attending a three- vs. a four-year EM residency program?

There are benefits to both lengths of training. I did a four year residency and am now a PD of a three year program. I think you should look at all aspects of the program and not just the length when selecting the right fit for you. Many people are choosing to go on to fellowships and a three year program sets you up nicely for additional training. Here at MCW we offer fellowships in Medical Toxicology, EMS, Ultrasound, and in collaboration with other departments also have fellowships in Pediatric EM, Palliative Care, and Critical Care.

What is something students may not know about your program?

Milwaukee is a great place to live and train. There are a ton of outdoor activities, beautiful lake setting, close proximity to other big cities, and you can live a few minutes away from the hospital in a suburban setting while experiencing the diversity of training that a busy city hospital offers.

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

We consider all applications holistically but typically like to see Step 1 scores >210.

Do you look for residency candidates with research experience? What kinds of opportunities for research exist for residents in your program?

We offer amazing research opportunities with internationally recognized top EM researchers in our department. Some trainees come to us with previous experience, but we are always pleased to help someone develop their research interests during their training.

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

Yes, we have a robust division of Global and Population Health with faculty who can provide mentorship in all areas of the world and in diverse topics. We offer opportunities both locally and abroad to give all residents experiences and training in global health and social emergency medicine.

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

Resilience, ability to collaborate, and appreciation of diversity.

Alternatively, can you describe any attributes and qualities that make applicants stand out?

We are looking for applicants that are ready to work hard, be a part of a team, and help each other. We are looking for future leaders and people with a diversity of future goals. We appreciate each person’s unique background and future plans. We are happy to receive e-mails or meet at residency fairs to discuss how you may be a great fit for MCW.

How has COVID-19 impacted training and how has your program adapted?

We have made safety a priority from the beginning of the pandemic in the US and Wisconsin. Additional and ongoing training on PPE use and diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 is ongoing. Due to currently high rates in the community, we have moved our didactic content to an all virtual format. Given the large amount of space and ability to complete activities in small groups we anticipate a return to in-person activities very soon.

If you could describe the culture of MCW EM in three words, which three would best represent your program?

Inclusive, dedicated, collaborative.

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