Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Department of Emergency Medicine

Message from the Program Director

Northwestern University is proud of its long tradition of national leadership in emergency medicine (EM) education and our state-of-the-art care for acutely ill or injured patients in the greater Chicago area. It is my pleasure to provide this brief introduction to our exceptional training program.

The first Northwestern EM resident graduated in 1973 from a program started at our former community affiliate, Evanston Hospital. In 1980, the Evanston EM program combined with a parallel residency that was housed at Northwestern Memorial Hospital – this merger created the current administrative structure for our residency program. We are the 6th oldest EM residency in the United States.

Northwestern EM residents care for and learn from a diverse population of patients at specially-chosen training sites. Our clinical curriculum is deliberately designed to produce residency graduates with advanced skills in life-saving and resuscitative procedures, critical care, trauma, and complex pediatric illness. The emergency departments (ED) of Northwestern Memorial Hospital (NMH) and Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago are both Level 1 Trauma Centers, with a combined annual ED census of over 142,000 patients. The two hospitals are located within three city blocks on the Chicago campus of Northwestern University, in the Streeterville neighborhood. The high-volume, high-complexity ED populations at these two tertiary care centers allow for a centralized training experience for our residents – 39 of the 48 months of our program occur within these neighboring hospitals.

Additional clinical training sites include Methodist Hospital ED (Northlake Campus) in Gary, Indiana (three months), Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital ED in Lake Forest, Illinois (three months), the Trauma Unit of Stroger Hospital of Cook County (two months), and the Toxicon Consortium/Illinois Poison Center at Stroger Hospital (one month). All clinical rotations outside the emergency department occur only in critical care units – our program does not offer training experiences on general hospital wards. EM residents spend a total of 8.5 rotations in an ICU setting, spread across our four-year curriculum. Of these, our residents provide senior coverage as admitting team leaders for two months in the NMH Medical ICU and one month at the Stroger Trauma Unit/Trauma ICU. EM residents also receive training in both adult and pediatric anesthesia, orthopedics, sports medicine, OB/GYN, and ultrasound. Three elective months are offered. All graduates complete the requisite number of ultrasound scans and didactic hours to meet credentialing recommendations of the American College of Emergency Physicians, with image confirmation by RDMS-certified EM faculty.

The NMH ED provides a challenging learning environment for our residents. There is no separation of acuity assignments between junior and senior residents. Under faculty and senior resident supervision, interns and second-year residents care for patients of any complexity level and are supervised as they perform all needed procedures. Interns participate in a resuscitation procedures “boot camp” throughout their first-year that prepares them to translate skills to the bedside. Importantly, our senior residents benefit from true “graded responsibility” – rather than simply “see more patients”, our third- and fourth-year residents serve as the junior attending. In this role, they receive presentations from all junior residents, medical students, and mid-level providers on their team. They interview and examine each of these patients, write supervisory notes on all of their charts, and assist in coordinating appropriate dispositions. Each senior resident is responsible for teams that care for 12-20 patients at one time – they learn to be highly efficient, drive throughput from the waiting room, and provide patient-centered, quality care. Residents receive formative reports of patient satisfaction through Press Ganey® surveys, separate from their supervisory faculty. Our graduates learn both the science and business of emergency medicine – they can expertly transition to an attending role in any setting and are highly sought after by prospective employers across the nation.

Our didactic conference curriculum is designed for adult learners and is rigorously evaluated on a yearly basis. Residents participate in a modular curriculum that focuses on a specific organ system or topic each module, which includes traditional lectures coordinated with simulation, small group learning, individualized interactive instruction, procedure labs and ultrasound labs. Two leadership development curricula are embedded throughout our longitudinal, four-year program: our Academic Colleges and Seminars in Professional Development. Research methodology is emphasized in our monthly Evidence-Based Conference series, our Adams’ Book Club, and through faculty-mentored scholarly work requirements. All residents prepare at least one publishable manuscript prior to graduation.

Northwestern University accepts applications to our EM residency program only through the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS®). We participate in the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP®) and offer 15 PGY-1 positions each year. Competitive candidates demonstrate success throughout medical school, as evidenced by course grades, USMLE® scores, letters of recommendation, leadership roles, and volunteerism. We welcome applications from candidates with a wide array of past experiences and strongly encourage applications from under-represented minorities in our specialty.

Thank you for your interest in the Northwestern EM Residency Program. Further details about our educational program, rotation sites, MS 4 clerkship, and residency application process can be found throughout our Department website.

Patrick Lank, MD, MS
Interim Residency Program Director
Associate Professor, Emergency Medicine