Sunday, April 27, 2014

So EM is right for you, now you need a plan….

So EM is right for you, now you need a plan….

Step One:
You need to do a home and an away rotation in EM as early as possible. Read the link to get all the details about choosing the right rotation.

This will give you exposure, personal advising, and feedback. It is incredibly important to do two things: 1-recognize the feedback you get, 2- demand feedback you haven't gotten in real time.
  • You will get feedback on every step, of every encounter - your job is to recognize it. While you present, notice what your supervisor does: glazed eyes = too much information, confused look = add details, fidgeting = speed it up. Every supervisor will want something different and you need to continually adapt to every one that you work with. Start with a formal, organized presentation, and then edit it throughout your shift to fit the non-verbal feedback you are getting. This article gives a great architecture to start with. 
  • Next you need to demand feedback. You can ask at the end of your shift, but often you will hear "you did a great job." More effective is a proactive approach. Self reflect and decide what you need to work on, then at the beginning of the shift let your supervisor know what you want to work on today. This lets them focus on the area you need help in and immediately lets them know you are open and eager for feedback and want to improve. This also allows the supervisor to note how you incorporate feedback and feed this into your evaluation. 
Step Two:

You are auditioning, you need to put your best face forward. You want to present yourself, at your best every day, and in every interaction. You want to be the worry free student, always willing to help, looking to do more, and happy to put in extra effort and time. Don't ask for special treatment, special schedules, or lots of days off. Don't call out unless you are seriously ill. Don't show up late to lectures because you stopped for breakfast.

As Amal Mattu says "be a Tigger": show up with a smile, positive attitude, and energy to spare. Be the person everyone wants to work with, especially the nurses and techs. Always be respectful, professional, and appropriate. EM tends to be a casual atmosphere, but resist the urge to be too casual. It is easy to step over the line when trying to fit in. Realize you are not in the same position as the residents or attendings and err on the side of caution. Be professional at all times. lean forward, look interested and acknowledge areas to improve.

Step Three:

You need to get your letters of recommendation. Your rotation is the basis for your letter, the more you can show the kind of resident you will be, the better your letter will reflect your abilities. The SLOE compares you to your peers. Your goal is to show your positive attributes and that you can grow and improve in 4 weeks. Set a time to meet with the program director and clerkship director, to discuss your interest in their program and get recommendations for your application. Set goals for yourself and meet them.

With these three steps you are well on your way to succeeding in your EM application

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

EM Mentoring 101

The biggest downside to seeking advice from a blog like this one is the lack of diversity of opinions.  Even if the author has tried to incorporate best practices from many sources, the info you get will still be filtered through their personal biases. This is why you need to seek out more than one opinion on the really big questions. A local advisor is going to be your ideal resource, so long as they are keeping up with trends in the Emergency Medicine application and match process. Another option is the SAEM e-advising program that can match you up with a faculty member from the region of the country you are interested in.

There are also web-based alternatives. One of the best I have yet encountered is the EM Mentoring 101 website put together by Christine Swenton when she was an EM resident at the UF Jacksonville program.  Back in 2012 she interviewed experienced Clerkship Directors and medical student advisors from across the country and collected their ideas and opinions into a one-stop site. Go have a look. I do not think you will be disappointed.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

SAEM 2014 for students and residents

The Society for Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM) is holding their Annual Meeting in Dallas May 13 - 17th. SAEM has a reputation for being all about research, though it is more fair to describe the organization as being all about academics. Their Annual Meeting has a ton to offer the student considering a career in Emergency Medicine (and the resident thinking of staying in academics.  

From a student perspective, the big draw is the Medical Student Symposium and the Residency Fair that follows:

"May 16th is the highlight for medical students at the SAEM Medical Student Symposium tailored for medical students applying to EM.  Panel discussions with current EM residents, roundtable discussions, and lunch with EM program directors will prepare EM bound students to understand the application and selection process."  

And here is the stated objective for the symposium:

Objectives:  The Medical Student Symposium is primarily tailored to medical students who have identified emergency medicine as their future specialty, but is also valuable for students still contemplating specialty choice.  The symposium includes presentations from seasoned EM educators, roundtable discussions geared for more individuated guidance, lunch with residency program directors, and a panel discussion with current EM residents.  Major themes for the symposium include the application and selection process. The program will be followed by the SAEM Residency and Fellowship Fair, providing students and residents with access to representatives from most EM programs across the country. 

At the completion of the session, participants should be able to:       
1. Assess their personal and career goals that might make EM a good fit.
2. Identify the multitude of career paths that exist within EM.
3. Optimize their fourth-year schedule.
4. Identify key factors and variables in selecting potential training programs.
5. Assemble a strong and compelling application package.
6. Perform their best during interviews.    

But wait, there is more. The SAEM Resident and Student Advisory Committee (RSAC), of which I am a member, has two events developed specifically for Emergency Medicine residents and medical students to provide opportunities to learn, network, and share ideas.  

1.  The RSAC sponsored Abstract Scavenger Hunt on May 14-16th will allow teams of medical students and residents to seek out abstracts in the SAEM Program Committee Gallery of Excellence.  The mission is designed for participants to answer questions using QR codes with their own smart phones.  The team answering the most abstract questions correctly will win prizes including free registration to the 2015 SAEM Annual Meeting and gift cards to Starbucks and Amazon.  

2.  The Resident & Medical Student Reception will be held on Friday, May 16th from 5:30-7:30 following the Residency and Fellowship Fair.  This event for medical students and residents is a great place to network with colleagues from across the country while mingling with leaders from SAEM committees and taskforces as they highlight opportunities for medical students and residents to become involved in Emergency Medicine at a national level early in your career.  (Including Ultrasound, Simulation, Women in EM, International EM, Social Media, Membership, Program, Ethics, and more) This reception, only for medical students and residents, is sponsored by ECI who will provide free drink tickets at their booth in the exhibitor hall. 

Both events are free and open to any resident or student attending the meeting. 

If you can make it to Dallas, I promise it will be worth the trip.  

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

How to use this blog...

EM Advisor is a blog whose purpose is to collect resources and advice that are valuable to medical students interested in pursuing a career in Emergency Medicine.

The blog has a simple construction:

These are static resources intended to guide you through the process of choosing and matching in EM.  These are periodically updated with the best advice we can find.  Examples of topics covered are: Is EM right for me?, Preparation and Expectations for EM Rotations, and a whole series on the application process covering everything from "Where to apply" to "what are Red Flags".

These appear periodically on the main page and are intended to be a catch-all of information for students considering Emergency Medicine.  Some are advice posts: How competitive is your application?, How to give good presentationsHow to get procedures.  Others are recommendations of learning resources found in the world of Free Open Access Medical Education (FOAMed): the Flipped EM ClassroomEM Basic podcastAcademic Life in Emergency Medicine blog, to name just a few. The application process in EM is a cycle, so some posts provide timely (hopefully) updates and reminders on topics like InterviewsRank Lists, and the dreaded what to do if you don't match.

The advice and suggestions found in this blog are by no means definitive. What is presented here are the opinions of a small number of EM educators.  However, we do attempt to represent the commonly held opinions and consensus recommendations from the members of organizations like the EM Council of Residency Directors (CORD) and Clerkship Director's in Emergency Medicine (CDEM).