April 20, 2001

Emergency residents top national test charts

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Emergency residents top national test charts

Vanderbilt Emergency Medicine residents once again scored the highest in the nation on the American Board of Emergency Medicine in-service residents exam, tying with two other programs. This was the fifth straight year – and each year since the program’s first senior class took the test – the residents’ aggregate score topped the chart.

“We’re not perfect, but the scores are proof that Vanderbilt is a great place to train in emergency medicine,” said Dr. Corey M. Slovis, chair of Emergency Medicine.

The residents scored an aggregate 86 percent, placing Vanderbilt’s three-year program higher than residents in any of the other 14 four-year programs in emergency medicine on the same test.

The department’s consistent excellence, Slovis said, is in large part due to residency director, professor of Emergency Medicine and the vice-chair of the department, Dr. Keith Wrenn. Wrenn is the 2001 winner of the Shovel Award, voted by the graduating medical school class as the best clinical teacher who had the biggest impact on their education. Wrenn also won the 1994 Shovel.

“Keith inspires a sense of excellence,” Slovis said. “There’s not a residency director in the country who works harder than Keith to know what the residents are feeling, and who responds to that.”

“One of the biggest things we do to ensure educational excellence is show up,” Wrenn said wryly. But, Slovis added, that Wrenn’s comment articulates the difference between Vanderbilt’s program and most other emergency medicine programs across the country.

“We aggressively encourage all our faculty to teach,” said Slovis, himself a three-time winner of the Shovel and a recipient of Vanderbilt’s newly created faculty teaching award for “teaching medical or graduate students or practicing physicians in the lecture setting.”

“There are some departments of emergency medicine where senior faculty do not make an impact day in, day out,” Slovis said. “Keith is at essentially every resident conference. We both think everyone in the program can teach everyone else – third years teach themselves and first and second years, second years teach themselves and the first years. We encourage everyone to teach and ask questions.”

Slovis also pointed to a legacy of Dr John C. Chapman, former dean of the School of Medicine, that casts praise across the VUMC campus. “Dean Chapman demanded, in his gentle but firm style, a spirit of collegiality and collaboration,” Slovis said. “So, when our residents rotate on other services, they’re treated extremely well.”

Slovis added that Vanderbilt’s “complete hospital” environment provides emergency medicine residents a broad array of experience – from pediatrics to trauma, oncology to diabetes care. And, Wrenn added, the diverse mix of Vanderbilt’s patient population – those needing sub-specialty care and those seeking primary care, coupled with patients with private insurance as well as one of the state’s largest non-insured patient loads – as adding to the educational experience.

But, Wrenn said, “when it comes down to it, the residents are the ones who score high. We tend to attract people who work hard and enjoy what they’re doing.”