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A Year of Reflection: Duke Emergency Medicine Residency Program Reconnects with Alumni

Tuesday, September 21, 2021
By Alexander Limkakeng Jr., MD, MHS, Vice Chief of Research

Photo above: Group photo of Duke Emergency Medicine residents during the winter holidays. 

As we settle into a new academic year, we proudly reflect on the successes of the last. In June, we celebrated the graduation of another group of amazingly talented and caring emergency physicians.

Following their individual interests, our graduates spread out across the country, some heading out far west, some finding a home in the middle, but many staying in North Carolina, either working at a local community hospital, pursuing an EMS fellowship, adding to our growing presence of graduates at Duke Regional Hospital, or coming onboard the mothership.

In July, with great anticipation, we finally met our new interns, who before we only knew through the webcams and emails of a virtual application season. Meeting them in-person reinforced and magnified their on-screen kindness, humor, and passion for emergency medicine. We are excited for this class to add to the strength of our Duke family through diversity along the lines of—but not limited to—gender, race, and nationality.

Our faculty continue to shine as leading educators nationally and locally. It is impossible to capture all the teaching activities they are involved in, but as a few examples: Sreeja Natesan, MD, was the co-leader for a new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Workshop at the national meeting for the Council of Residency Directors in Emergency Medicine (CORD); Julian Hertz, MD, became the inaugural course director for a novel course that provides all Duke medical students with an introduction to clinical medicine before they begin their basic science education (earning some of the best student feedback anyone has ever seen); Traci Thoureen, MD, MHS, continues to wow students and humble residents through simulation; and Erin Leiman, MD, fosters interprofessional education as the medical co-director of Duke’s Interprofessional Education Clinic.

But taking time to reflect on this year’s educational success is a reminder of our program’s greatest asset: its people.

In addition to our local faculty, as didactics have taken on a virtual format, we seized the opportunity to take better advantage of an invaluable group of educators: our alumni. Through virtual conferencing, it has been a pleasure to reconnect with former graduates, learn of their success, hear of their continued appreciation for their Duke training, and watch them impart wisdom to our current trainees and faculty! We hope to take better advantage of our rich alumni network in the years to come.

Summers bring the anticipation and excitement of sub-internships when we get to work closely with the next generation of emergency physicians. While in the past we have averaged six Duke sub-interns, this year we have 13. This remarkable doubling is felt in part to represent an increased appreciation for the role emergency physicians play in serving their communities, made all the more visible by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The year has not been without challenge. Health care disparities, social injustice, and new viral strains weigh heavily on us all.  But taking time to reflect on this year’s educational success is a reminder of our program’s greatest asset: its people.

Through collective wisdom and mutual support, our faculty, residents, and students have continued to excel. In its mission, the Duke Emergency Medicine Residency Program remains strong and firm in its commitment to provide the best training in the country, promote diversity, combat racism, and serve its community.


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