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Since 1934, Kern Medical has been training residents and
health care professionals in our community.

Emergency FAQ

Is Kern Medical a trauma center?

Kern Medical is a Level II Trauma Center and the only trauma center for all of Kern County. Kern Medical cares for a large volume of both blunt and penetrating trauma. The Emergency Medicine Department works hand in hand with the trauma service to critically assess, resuscitate, diagnose, and treat trauma patients. The traumas run the gamut from minor injuries to open thoracotomies. We work closely with our surgical colleagues, which is a major strength of our department as well as our residency program.

Only Level II?

The only features Kern Medical does not have that are required of a Level I Trauma Center are a burn unit and cardiopulmonary bypass capability. However, from the training standpoint of an EM resident, there is not much change. If a trauma patient requires a burn unit or cardiopulmonary bypass, the patient will always first come to Kern Medical for stabilization, prior to transfer, as we are the only trauma center for 100 miles in any direction. As emergency physicians, we see plenty of burns, major and minor. We direct the initial assessment and management of emergent burns.

Who runs Trauma at Kern Medical

All trauma activations are run by the EM residents. The EM resident in charge assigns all duties prior to the patient’s arrival and coordinates all efforts during resuscitation. Orders are given by only one person – the EM resident in charge of the resuscitation. The Emergency Department also has a healthy relationship with the surgery service. The surgical team is present during resuscitations, providing manpower assistance and consultation in decision-making. The ED attending is also present in the room for consultation.

What is the interaction like between your residents and attending physicians?

Our residency program is acutely aware that being a physician, especially in a busy county ED, is a demanding job. One of our program’s great strengths is the supportive environment in which we work and learn. The faculty is committed to training our residents and helping them learn how to integrate life and work. For example, the program sponsors a variety of social events outside the hospital. We have backyard barbeques, movie nights, tennis matches, holiday parties, graduation parties, and a yearly resident retreat on the lake. These events allow residents and faculty to get to know each other on a more personal level.

What is the attending coverage like in the ED?

At least one attending is available in the ED 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They are always easily accessible for questions or to assess problems. Every case is discussed with the attending at some point prior to discharge or admission, and the attending physically sees every patient. For junior residents, cases are presented early, and the attending takes a more active role in the work-up, treatment, and disposition decisions. Senior residents are given more independence and may have disposition already arranged prior to discussing the case.

Do your residents have enough autonomy?

We believe that we have struck an excellent balance in guiding our residents without being overbearing. Since our attendings see every patient, usually separate from the resident, they can make an independent assessment and provide feedback regarding important history or physical exam findings that might have been missed. Procedures are supervised by attendings until documented competency has been established. Residents progressively take over more of the decision-making until, by the senior year, they are functioning independently and basically managing the entire department.

How many shifts per month are you expected to work?

Our residents thrive in an environment that is committed to their education and not their exhaustion. Our residents work seven-, eight-, and nine-hour shifts, and are scheduled for 20 shifts in 28 days. Typically, a resident will work four to five night shifts in a 28-day block. Some overlap is provided in the schedule to allow those residents coming toward the end of their shift to finish working on current patients without having to pick up new ones. Conference time, every Thursday morning, is protected time. Residents are required to leave the department or their off-service rotation to attend conference. The shifts are scheduled as follows: Morning (7:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.), “Nooner” (noon-8 p.m.), Evening (3:30-10:30 p.m.), Night (10:30 p.m.-7:30 a.m.).

Do you have ultrasound in the ED?

Ultrasound is used extensively in our department, with three ultrasound machines in nearly constant use. There are few patient encounters or exams, in our opinion, that cannot be facilitated in some way by accomplished ultrasonography. We perform hundreds of FAST (focused assessment with sonography for trauma) exams on trauma patients. In addition, we perform transabdominal and transvaginal ultrasound exams on our OB-GYN patients. We regularly perform bedside ultrasounds to evaluate for viable intrauterine pregnancy, fetal age, ectopic pregnancy, gallstones, kidney stones, hydronephrosis, abscess depth, aortic aneurysm, cardiac wall motion, and pericardial effusion.

Are there plenty of procedures?

This is an absolute and resounding yes. Training in a county ED demands that faculty and residents perform almost any procedure under even the direst circumstances. Our program places emphasis on our residents’ ability to perform difficult procedures with equanimity and excellence. Anesthesiology does not intubate in our ED. In fact, they are not present in our department, only in the operating rooms. The EM physicians perform all ED intubations. The ED also responds to all code blues in the hospital, 24 hours a day. The program director is careful to track the residents’ procedures and review their progress every six months. By the end of your residency here, there is no doubt that you will be comfortable performing any of the myriad procedures required of an emergency physician.

Are residents expected to teach?

Residents are actively involved in the teaching process. At the PGY-1 level, they take turns directing a weekly review of the Tintinalli’s Study Guide. PGY-2 residents are expected to direct journal club. PGY-3 residents organize and present lectures on particular ED procedures. At the PGY-4 level, residents prepare and present lectures on topics of their choice for emergency and trauma conferences. Senior residents also supervise and teach medical students and residents from other services when they rotate through our ED.

What is your accreditation status?

Our most recent Residency Review Committee review was this year, 2015. We were awarded full accreditation for five years, with NO violations or issues cited.

What about research at Kern Medical?

The residency program’s primary focus has traditionally been to produce strong clinical emergency physicians. Residents can join faculty in an existing research project, but are highly encouraged to produce their own unique research projects from inception of a clinical question, through Institutional Review Board approval, to analysis, and completion. We require all residents to complete a scholarly project, and encourage research publication and abstract presentation as a goal. Kern Medical holds an annual research forum for presenting locally produced research.