By Linda Satter
The Emergency Medicine Interest Group at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) recently received top honors nationally from the Emergency Medicine Residents’ Association (EMRA). The UAMS group was named the EMIG of the Year.
EMRA is the largest and oldest independent resident organization in the world and has a membership of more than 16,000 residents, medical students, fellows and alumni. It recently announced the prestigious honor in its newsletter along with a photograph of 32 members of the UAMS team who participated in a local cleanup event – one of numerous events the group participated in during the 2020-21 academic year to earn the national honor.
“This award was established to recognize the outstanding achievements of the most productive Emergency Medicine Interest Groups on a regional and national scale, along with the hardworking student leaders who provide a diverse range of valuable Emergency Medicine-related learning and networking opportunities to their student members,” according to EMRA’s website.
Paige Dailey and Morgan Sweere served as co-presidents of the UAMS group, which has more than 100 members.
Dailey, who held office as a fourth-year medical student, now has her medical degree and is a first-year resident in the Department of Emergency Medicine at UAMS. Sweere, a third-year medical student, also plans to specialize in Emergency Medicine, though not everyone in the interest group plans to make a career out of emergency medicine.
Ethan Clement, a third-year medical student who is now junior president of the UAMS group, said Dailey and Sweere “did a lot of hard work that resulted in a UAMS group being awarded EMIG of the Year.”
The group participates in activities and events throughout the year to further the skills and knowledge that are endemic to emergency medicine but useful in many other medical specialties. Because Emergency Medicine isn’t a required rotation for medical students, the basic skills honed during some interest group activities are often especially beneficial for students focused on other medical specialties, Dailey and Sweere said.
Among the learning and network opportunities that Dailey and Sweere organized and painstakingly documented – one of the requirements of the award – were simulation events, Journal Club events, presentation scenarios and monthly faculty lectures covering a variety of emergency medicine specialties.
At simulation events, participants practice emergency techniques on mannequins, such as intubation, establishing a central line or splinting.
During Journal Club events, interest group members discuss articles on emerging research in the emergency medicine field, with students giving presentations about different components of the research.
In the presentation scenarios, students discuss the steps they would take when a patient presents with a particular scenario – say, an 85-year-old patient complaining of weakness. Students discuss what tests they would order and ultimately what kind of disposition plan they would create.
“That’s really good practice for us,” Sweere said.
The interest group also participates in community events, such as helping with neighborhood cleanup efforts or perhaps volunteering in a food bank or with a clothing drive.
“We wanted to get our group really involved,” Dailey said. To that end, she said, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic created quite a challenge.
For example, the group had to obtain special permission from the dean’s office and agree to follow strict mask-wearing mandates to hold some activities in person, such as simulation events involving mannequins.
Despite those obstacles, Sweere said, “One of the nice things about it was that medical students are generally very motivated to get involved.”
“We still had a lot of turnout,” Dailey said.
Meryll E. Bouldin, M.D., assistant professor in the UAMS Department of Emergency Medicine, was the faculty advisor for the UAMS EMIG group for the 2019-2020 academic year.
“I’m very proud of this group,” Bouldin said. “They have grown tremendously since I have known them and have to be one of the most active and impactful interest groups on campus. Their student leadership team is very innovative and driven to provide the best content and resources to the rest of their classmates.”
“When COVID brought things to a halt, this group pushed forward, continuing to enhance their curriculum even though things had to be virtual. This national award is a HUGE deal and it couldn’t have gone to a more deserving group.”