Here we go with Part 2 of M4 Maglin Halsey’s series on the new Emergency Medicine residency and interview with Dr. Camiron Pfennig. Here’s Part 1, in case you missed it.
M: What other things are you all trying to consider as you start this residency?
DP: I think there is some diversity of experience here. We have the environment, when you start to think about where we live. You’ve got mountains. You’ve got colleges. You’ve got some rural experience. You’ve got a growing city that’s up and coming to meet the needs of the growing population. We’ve got broad EMS coverage. We have incredible EMS folks in our department already recruited from all over the country [who are] expanding the EMS enterprise across not only South Carolina, but also North Carolina. We’ve got people from all over who have come to Greenville to work on faculty–West Coast, East Coast, overseas–that bring a breadth of experience. Not everyone has trained in South Carolina. You look to the left, you see someone that’s trained somewhere else. You look to the right, you see someone that’s trained somewhere else. We’re bringing all that diversity.
And then [you have] the diversity of the patient population as well. You’ve got good coverage from peds to adult. You’ve got trauma. You’ve got medical. You’ve got an all-encompassing population that walks through that door at any given time.
There will be event medicine around here. Unique to Greenville is the Clinical University model with ties to Furman, Clemson and the University of South Carolina. You know, really, there is no place else that does it like this, and the idea is so fresh and so new that we don’t really know exactly where it will evolve. But it will evolve, and it will probably be pretty awesome to see the residents be able to interact with those institutions on many different levels. Who knows what will stem into resident opportunities–sidelines for the No. 1 college football team in the country and doing stuff that they’re interested in pursuing in fellowship opportunities. And the Sports Medicine program here is fantastic, being tied to Steadman-Hawkins.
M: What will be some unique things about this residency?
DP: Being affiliated with this brand new medical school that’s got the most innovative technology out there. This is our chance to really try some new things. We are wide open to ideas. We are very strongly considering going outside of the box for interview season. I have lots of ideas about using technology in the interview process to try to cut back on costs to medical students. I think there is definitely some value in what they do in the business world. In my opinion, we do the interview season poorly, backwards. I mean, you look at the way the business world is doing things now. The on-site interview is way down the line, and there are a lot of other screening processes on both sides that allows the candidate to get more involved with the institution. It allows the institution to get more information on the candidate. We’re thinking about doing more heavy lifting up front whether or not it be FaceTime or Skype–some platform to do initial interviews that allow the student to decide if it’s a place they want to spend their time and money. And then potentially bring fewer students on site and spend more quality time with the students that do come. So, as opposed to bringing 100 to 110 students on site, maybe bring 50 and spend a bit more time with each student to really show them what they’re going to get here and allow them to feel comfortable walking out of here knowing that the experience is what it’s billed as. This is our chance to take risks…It’s impractical to say you need to go interview at 15 places and spend two days at each of them and get your hotel and feed yourself and get your plane tickets. But if the medical student was shooting to go to less places, and we therefore maybe have more of a budget to support the interview process on our end. We hope to be the program that, since we’re so new, has the chance to say…let’s give it a shot…
M: What challenges have you had so far or foresee in the future?
DP: One of the biggest things is culture, and I think when you go from a primarily community structure of the Emergency Department to an academic structure, there are a lot of growing pains, and there are a lot of growing opportunities. For example, right now we are used to having medical students and residents every now and then, and so education has become a part of our mission but not a part of our culture. We need education to be something we do all the time, not every now and then.
As we make that transition to have more learners, it requires a lot of faculty development. It requires a lot of faith and buy-in. It really requires you to step outside of what you’ve been doing for x-y-z number of years, where you’ve been caring for patients very well, and now care for patients maybe even better because now you’re having the young learners that want evidence-based medicine and really make you stay on your toes. That has been a challenge, and it continues to be a challenge. It’s not anything different than any other institution going through these changes.
The other big thing is space. I mean, when you look around the property here, there’s not much more land. We’re not building. Now, yes, we’re expanding, but we’re not necessarily building in the space we have. So we’ve had to be very creative in figuring out how to achieve more space, not only for resident offices, lounge, faculty offices, conference rooms, but also trying to re-work the clinical space to ensure that there’s room for students, room for residents. We’re working through that on a daily basis. It takes some creativity, and it takes flexibility. It takes sometimes thinking outside of the box. That’s been a challenge. Plus, we’re growing like crazy. We have more patients, more patients, more patients, which requires more physicians. We are recruiting across the country, bringing in people from all backgrounds, all walks of Emergency Medicine. It’s exciting. We’re bringing fresh new ideas and just deciding who we want to be. It’s exciting but scary at the same time.
I’m originally from Knoxville, TN, and found my way to South Carolina four years ago to pursue my undergraduate education at Clemson University. I graduated in May 2012 with a degree in Bioengineering, and I’m thrilled to be spending four more years in this area. I am passionate about USC School of Medicine Greenville’s commitment to community wellness and developing well-rounded doctors. I am excited to share this journey of our charter class with you.
I had a wonderful opportunity to sit down with Camiron Pfennig, MD, recently and discuss the progress and future of the Emergency Medicine residency program that will be coming to Greenville Health System (GHS) and the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville (USCSOMG) very soon.
Dr. Pfennig is a board-certified Emergency Medicine physician who will be the Program Director for this new residency program. She completed her medical school and residency training at Indiana University in Indianapolis, and she has always had an interest in teaching both residents and medical students. Immediately after she graduated from residency, she moved to Nashville, Tenn., to work as faculty at Vanderbilt University. There, she first served as the Assistant Clerkship Director, then the Clerkship Director and ultimately the Director of Undergraduate Medical Education for the Department of Emergency Medicine. She also served in many other roles for both medical students and residents during her time at Vanderbilt. We’ve already been lucky enough to see Dr. Pfennig’s enthusiasm for supporting students in her time here in Greenville as she began the “colleges” system for the medical school. (For those of you who aren’t a medical student here, think Harry Potter!) Continue Reading →
Though I may only be a little over three months into medical school, the rigor of the curriculum has already begun to swell my brain with knowledge of biochemistry, cell biology, physiology, anatomy, histology, and all of the other content areas we must become familiar with to progress in our medical knowledge and to prepare for medical practice. Every day I learn more about the immense complexity of the human body. At times I am frustrated by the difficulty of learning certain material, and other times I am intrigued by a certain pathway or component of physiology leading me to investigate further. Despite the difficulty and pace of the learning, I am growing to love learning more each day. I have come to recognize a component of this education lately that I think we ought to pay more attention to. Continue Reading →
I have a hard time doing just one thing at a time, even less nothing, a quality I’m sure I share with many medical students. Why just eat dinner when I can eat dinner and watch a recorded lecture? Every minute of my day can have multiple uses, and I use them to full advantage. Even relaxing or recreational activities become multipurpose: commercial breaks become a short flashcard study session and study breaks become push-up breaks. I obsessively cram stuff into my day, because time feels unbelievably scarce and there are so many things I want to do. Continue Reading →
Everyone who has spent significant time in the halls of Greenville Memorial knows this voice. It echoes monotonously through the halls, an Orwellian chant demanding the attention of the busy inhabitants. For medical students on the medicine or surgery call teams, ears perk up, pulses quicken and steps hasten. A steady and clear loop, it cuts through the hustle and bustle of the floor: “Code STAT, West Tower, 4F, Code STAT, West Tower, 4F….” Continue Reading →
It’s the start of the new year! For us as medical students, the holiday break was a much needed hiatus from the “go-go-go” of the daily routine, but returning from it means we all are about to face some of the most challenging and rewarding milestones of our medical school careers. M1s must finish their first year of school and their OSCEs to advance to second year. M2s must begin (if they haven’t already) the daily grind of preparing for the notorious Step 1 board exam. M3s are finishing their rotations and will soon choose the specialty they want to enter. M4s are interviewing for residencies, and they soon will graduate and match as the first graduating class of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville. Continue Reading →
Thanks for following along so far this year! We are looking forward to continue documenting students’ thoughts and experiences during our medical school journey. We hope that you have enjoyed some of our posts thus far. In case you missed any, the holiday season is a great time to find a break and enjoy some of our stories: Continue Reading →
At this point it’s been about five months since my class began our third year of medical school. For many of us, it’s been a crazy five months. We’ve been a part of cardiac resuscitations, we’ve been the first person on our team to evaluate a life-threatening condition in the ER, we’ve held the hand of patients about to die, we’ve cried with patients whose lives and families are falling apart because of their illness, and the list goes on. Even though we don’t have much clinical experience or authority, we are learning, and in the process our lives have intersected the lives of our patients at some of their most vulnerable moments. It is an immense privilege, and one that we do not take lightly. Continue Reading →
What I am about to write about is a something that is not easy to talk about. It is something that I see everyday. It is something that is plaguing the health of this country and is costing the American people billions of dollars. It is so prevalent that it almost appears as if it is the norm. There is a movement towards its acceptance in social media and in the general public. It is prevalent throughout all socioeconomic classes, yet it unfortunately affects the poor more than any other class (among many other things that affect the poor the most, which is another discussion in its entirety). I want to present the facts gathered from the CDC to you before I share my thoughts on the issue. I want to talk about something that I am going to call “nutritional obesity.” Continue Reading →
I have been a student in the classroom my entire life…grades K-12, undergraduate education, first two years of medical school…until this year. Finishing my 3rd year of medical school was a milestone in my education. It was a transition. Studying from books and lectures is very different than learning from patients in a clinical setting. Not only do the patients, physicians and residents keep you on your toes, but you are also learning to work in a new system—the healthcare system. Every day, I find myself asking for help from people who know this system. It’s a humbling experience to ask for help, especially for a perfectionist, Type A personality who has always hated asking for help. Continue Reading →