Not every Emergency Medicine Residency Conference ends with chocolate cake.
But the students and faculty who gathered in a South Campus lecture hall earlier this month had something to celebrate—as of Sept. 1, Emergency Medicine had spent its first 12 months as a full-fledged academic Department, and, according to Department Chair Dr. Deborah Diercks, had made significant progress. Dr. Diercks recapped for the faculty and residents at the celebration a number of key accomplishments over the previous year, which included new collaborations with Anesthesia and Cardiology, the establishment of a clinical trials unit, and the expansion of their residency program. With 22 residents per year, the department’s three-year residency program is now the third largest in the country.
“These types of accomplishments wouldn’t have been possible without our department being formally established,” Dr. Diercks said. “There are many students, faculty, and staff who are to be commended for the effort they’ve contributed over the past 20 years.”
One faculty member she noted in particular was Dr. Michael Wainscott, who built and led the emergency medicine residency program at UT Southwestern for a more than a decade before succumbing to a prolonged illness in February 2012. To honor him, the Michael Wainscott, M.D. Fund in Emergency Medicine Education was established to create a distinguished professorship in Dr. Wainscott’s name.
“I’m excited to announce today that the Michael Wainscott, M.D. Fund in Emergency Medicine Education is now fully funded,” Dr. Diercks said to the group, igniting thunderous applause. Dr. Larissa Velez has been appointed as the first recipient of the professorship.
Dr. Diercks outlined several departmental goals for 2015-2016 in clinical care, research, faculty development, education, and performance and safety, but she named further involvement with the School of Medicine as priority one.
“For the past three years, Emergency Medicine has been the third or fourth choice for UTSW students in the match, and we haven’t been as active with the school as we want to be,” Dr. Diercks said. “One goal is to discuss with medical school leaders how the Emergency Department faculty can help UT Southwestern medical students understand the benefits of going into Emergency Medicine as a specialty area after graduation.”
Dr. Larissa Velez, a Professor of Emergency Medicine who oversees recruitment for the residency program, wants to focus on integration, with Emergency Medicine residents having a greater presence at both Parkland and Clements University Hospital.
“Emergency Medicine is not just a County hospital specialty, we can work in any setting,” Dr. Velez said. “We have ambitious goals for the program, and it will be important to bring people in who want to move the program forward. Everyone has a specific talent, and there is room for everyone’s contribution here. We want people who want to serve.”