In this installment of EMRA Resident Interviews we spoke with Jasmine Hill, MD, Jose Reyes, MD, Vladimir Bernstein, MD, and Kyle Ackerman, MD, Chief Residents at Cook County Emergency Medicine
What made you choose your program?
Having the opportunity to train at a top emergency medicine program under the guidance of nationally recognized faculty while being privileged to care for a historically underserved patient population are some of the many qualities that make Cook County EM such an exciting residency program. Cook County residents train to work in all settings - we offer a breadth of rotations at different community hospitals, and our graduates take on rural, urban, and academic positions across the country. Being able to offer all this and more while being based in the beautiful city of Chicago made Cook County an easy choice.
Was a 3 year or 4 year program a factor for you when applying?
To be brief, not really! There are so many different pros and cons between three-year and four-year programs. As a four-year program, we offer the opportunity for our senior residents to get comfortable supervising our junior residents, teaching on shift, and preparing lectures, all while managing many high-acuity patients. Between dedicated elective time, and opportunities for research, administration, and medical education, we work with our residents to ensure their fourth year best prepares them for their next career step.
How does your program provide wellness measures?
Residency can be one of the most stressful times of our lives, so our program works hard to support incentives and events around resident wellness. We offer free mental health resources, dedicated class wellness days, weekly resident shoutouts, and fitness challenges. But sometimes its' the little things, like a virtual conference day (often from bed), a post-shift meal after a hard shift, or the attending buying everyone lunch that can mean the most during those tough stretches. Our residents and faculty support one another - we're all in this together!
How would you describe your program's culture?
Our program's culture is founded on the core principles of mentorship, service, and collaboration. We are committed to excellence in education, and from early on, our residents take on leadership and mentor roles with rotating students and residents within the department. We invest in our surrounding community, with many of us dedicating countless hours to support grassroots projects and volunteerism throughout the city. Our residents work tirelessly with different specialties within the hospital with the common goal of caring for our patients. We're fortunate to have such positive relationships with our consultants, who recognize our integral role in our patients' healthcare. We, as residents, know our impact on the program direction and work tirelessly to ensure a safe, secure space to learn and practice medicine together.
How does your program support you in your career goals - i.e working in the community, preparing you for fellowship, etc?
Through our training! Our residency program offers a variety of clinical rotations settings, ranging from critical access hospitals to academic centers. We're privileged to rotate through several hospitals throughout the city, which prepares us to work in any environment after residency. We also have several nationally recognized faculty available to mentor our residents in their areas of interest, like wilderness medicine, medical education, ultrasound, EMS, simulation, and medical toxicology, to name a few. Finally, the opportunity for dedicated elective time and our extensive graduate network help ensure our residents are best prepared to succeed after residency.
What makes your program unique?
It's our residents that make our program the special place that it is. We're lucky to have brought together 68 of the brightest, most talented individuals together; committed to providing patient care to an underserved population.
Does your program have room in their curriculum for pursuit of personal interests such as wilderness medicine, ultrasound, global medicine, EMS, etc?
Absolutely! Between dedicated elective time and nationally recognized faculty specializing in a wide variety of subspecialties, you'll be able to find a faculty member to support and develop your personal and professional interests. Many of our residents have received scholarships or have accepted positions in competitive external programs, which can help their professional career goals.
Is your program a community based or academic based program? What is the advantage of your program’s setting?
Cook County EM offers the best aspects of both community and academic programs. We are a high-volume county residency program serving a predominately uninsured population within a hospital system that provides the same resources and subspecialty care you might find at a major academic institution. This unique experience gives our residents exposure to the rare, critical cases of the community while preparing to work within an academic institution.
What is something students may not know about your program?
Cook County EM residency program is actively advocating for the growth and development of Women in Emergency Medicine. We are so fortunate to have an incredible group of women faculty, administration, and residents who host several wellness events and retreats throughout the year dedicated to providing a protected space for our residents to learn, support and discuss some of the struggles associated with working in a male-dominated specialty.
What opportunities exist for research in your program?
Endless! Our program is fortunate to offer the faculty and resources necessary to pursue research in whatever your area of interest. Dr. Mark Mycyk, our research chair with an adjunct faculty position at Northwestern Medicine who serves as an editor for multiple journals, is nationally recognized for his academic contributions and works directly with residents to help them learn about the process of conducting high-quality research.
What is something medical students can do to help prepare for residency?
Relax! Vacation! Catch up on sleep! Doing whatever you need for your wellness to ensure you are physically and mentally ready for the rigorous demands of residency is the best thing you can do as a medical student. Our interns have the first month off to get oriented to being new residents, so we are prepared to teach you everything you need to know from day one.