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Program Director Interview Series: Robin Naples, MD | Thomas Jefferson University


Robin Naples, MD, Program Director of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital Emergency Medicine Residency Program, spoke with the EMRA Medical Student Council about applying for EM residencies and opportunities at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. What can you expect from the Pennsylvania program? Read on for Dr. Naples's insights on the residency culture and highlights of the residency.

What sets your program apart from others?
Despite being one of the oldest residency programs in the city, our residency and department have embraced innovation and change. With the infusion of many new faculty over the past 5 years, Thomas Jefferson's Department of Emergency Medicine is leading the way in re-imagining the delivery of emergency care. Our department has leaders in Design Thinking and Innovation, Telehealth Medicine, Observation Medicine, Ultrasound, Critical Care, and Public Policy.  This gives our residents unique insight to new facets of emergency medicine, along with access to the "Who's Who" of bread-and-butter EM.

In a large city such as Philadelphia, with such a density of EM programs, what opportunities exist for cooperation?
A mainstay of the EM mindset is teamwork and collaboration. Many within residency leadership here in the Philadelphia area share those ideals. Currently, there are already several city-wide events that occur throughout the year. There is also a work group for the Delaware region, which shares ideas. With the expansion of the Jefferson Health enterprise, opportunities between Jefferson and Aria to share resources and collaborate on educational programming have become available.  I anticipate in the near future that not only will joint conferences be held, but also education research opportunities will grow given the rich resources we have in the city and surrounding areas.

What are the benefits of attending a 3- vs. 4-year EM residency program?
The decision to attend a 3- vs. 4-year program is an individual one. There are benefits to each, depending on what you value. My bias is that I trained at a 3 year program and worked in academics only at 3-year programs. The general take on 3-year programs is that they are lean. You should expect to work hard clinically and not have a lot of built-in cushion in your schedule.  If you discover a niche that you are interested in pursuing, you work extra hard in residency and/or pursue it as a fellowship after your three years. In a 4-year program, the time to develop that area of expertise or pursue a pet project is built into the schedule. This allows for more elective time or research time outside your clinical development.

What is something that students may not know about your program?
The something most students probably don't know about our program is me (Robin Naples, MD)! I have been very fortunate to be able to join the Jefferson team as Program Director as of Jan. 1, 2017.  I spent the previous 8 ½ years up Broad Street working at Temple University Hospital. As other faculty move between academic programs in the city, this lends itself to more collaboration and creative new approaches to how we train our residents. My goal at Jefferson is to continue to build upon the strong clinical foundation of the residency, while collaborating with the amazing supporting faculty to allow the residents to get a unique training in other facets of emergency medicine. Evaluation and feedback for the residents, as well as for the program and the leadership team, are the most important piece to continue to improve the training.

What range of USMLE/COMLEX Step 1 scores do you look for in an applicant for the program?
P=MD, right? So first and foremost, we are looking for a passing score. We do not look at the USMLE/COMPLEX scores in isolation, so there is not a concrete basement score that I can give you. Reviewing the aggregate of the recent classes, the average USMLE Step 1 score has been 223.

What kinds of opportunities for research exist? Do you look for residency candidates with research experience?
Thomas Jefferson is among the top grant-funded Departments of Emergency Medicine. We have strong basic science, clinical, and population health researchers. Our monthly research meetings are open to residents. Residents are encouraged to float ideas that they have on projects, which can then get flushed out with the guidance of an advisor. Similar to the answer on USMLE scores, we do not have a requirement for our applicants to have research experience. I find that many medical students applying to Emergency Medicine have had some prior exposure to research, either bench research as an undergrad or clinical research as a junior medical student, however, for us, it is not essential.

Do you have opportunities to explore global health at your institution?
We encourage residents to pursue areas of interests within the practice of Emergency Medicine, whether it is global health, research, ultrasound, etc. Several of our faculty are active in international groups and conferences. Use of resident elective time is not restricted to local opportunities, so residents interested in traveling abroad can use elective time for engaging in global health projects.

What are some qualities that your program looks for in applicants?
There is no magical quality we are looking for in our future residents. We are looking for hard-working, genuine people who want to learn how to take good care of patients in an emergency department setting. Bonus features include being willing to push yourself to think outside the box in terms of the way you learn, the way you think, and the way you deliver care.

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