Every day, in every hospital in America, the practice of medicine is carried out faithfully by dedicated providers intent on caring for their patients and educating tomorrow’s workforce. But that practice takes place amidst the business of health care – and sometimes the two collide. Policies change, contracts end, administrations turn over. It can create uncertainty, especially for residency programs.
Such was the case for Summa Health System of Ohio, which underwent an unforeseen shift in emergency department contract providers during December. The abruptness of the change – a turnover on just 4 days’ notice – prompted the EMRA Board of Directors to send an open letter to the EM community. Primary concerns included the departure of all EM residency program faculty, including the program director, with no transition plan initially in place for the program or its 30 residents.
Into that gap stepped EMRA alumni member Scott Felten, MD, FACEP, who was quickly named interim program director by US Acute Care Solutions, which took over Summa Health System’s contract.
Dr. Felten has worked at all nine USACS graduate medical education facilities. He spoke with EMRA about his new undertaking in Ohio.
Q: What’s your priority as the interim program director?
My top priorities are:
- To make sure that the residents’ education is not compromised in any way and to actually improve upon their educational experience.
- To maintain the long-term health of the program by optimizing our residency match this year.
- To ensure that the residents have the ability, space and support to get through what is obviously an unexpectedly rapid transition.
I’m confident we will be able to get through these tough initial stages to emerge as an even better residency.
Q: How is the change in staffing affecting current residents?
It is impossible to say that this change hasn’t affected every resident in some way. Strong, positive relationships have been built over the past several years. We at USACS acknowledge this, and most of my time is dedicated to making new connections with the residents, providing guidance and mentorship, and forging ahead in this constantly changing environment. We are excited about building new relationships with the residents — we have a lot to offer, but we also have a lot to learn from them. Our shared goal is to take care of patients, and we will all continue to do that.
Q: What’s the status of your program for this year’s match?
We are very much in the match and are expecting to fill our program as usual. This has been and continues to be an excellent program, and we are building an outstanding new core faculty. We encourage all medical students to continue their plans to rank us highly. For some reason, medical students who had interviews scheduled, but had not yet interviewed, had their interviews cancelled before USACS arrived. I have contacted those students personally and reestablished their interviews. I expect us to fill with the same caliber of residents we always have. I inherited a great program, and I don’t expect this to slide.
Q: Moving forward, what are your goals for the program?
Our goals are to establish a new core faculty (including residency leadership), to maintain and improve upon the education of the residents, and to ensure that the residents are well-supported and mentored. We are well on our way to doing this — I have already hired an assistant program director (EMRA alumni member Christopher Lloyd, DO, FACEP) who is an incredible resident advocate and educator, and named interim core faculty.
Q: How will you accomplish these objectives?
Summa Akron City Hospital is an excellent environment for energetic faculty who are eager to work with outstanding residents and build the best clinical emergency medicine residency in the country. Change always creates opportunity, and the best way to seize this opportunity is to throw your hat into the ring. We already have several excellent new core faculty and we are building an outstanding department. If anyone reading wants to be a clinician educator in a well-established EM residency program with the resources of a national EM physician group (and without the strong pressure of research grant submissions), drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Because we are a national group with ties to 9 other residency programs and multiple national EM experts, we are able to draw upon our colleagues to participate in the education of our residents. Our physicians are experts in the areas of education, EMS, ethics, research, geriatric EM, administration, career planning, risk management, evidence-based medicine, and more. These physicians can help participate in the training of the Summa residents to provide a truly well-rounded educational experience.
The mentorship and guidance piece starts locally with me and involves all the core faculty at the site with national level support. I’m honored to be in the position to move the residency forward, and my passion is the achievement of success for our residents during residency and beyond.
Q: What would you like the EM community, especially the residents and medical students EMRA serves, to know?
USACS manages 10 outstanding residencies in places like Chicago, Pittsburgh, Las Vegas, and this one in Akron. Our support for GME is thorough and unwavering. The situation in Akron is unique, but manageable for a company like USACS. We will not let these young physicians down, and we are excited to participate in their education.
More about Scott Felten
Most recently, Dr. Felten worked clinically at St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and in the Mercy Health System in Cincinnati. Previously, he served as an assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Oklahoma in Tulsa. Before that, he was a member of the ED staff at Akron General Medical Center and later served as the medical clerkship director, associate program director, and medical director of the Akron General Medical Center Emergency Department in Stow, Ohio.
Dr. Felten graduated from the University of Nebraska with a bachelor’s in biology in 1993. He completed medical school training at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in 1997. He served as the chief resident of Emergency Medicine at Akron General Medical Center in Akron, Ohio and completed the program in 2000.