Letter from Program Director

Welcome from Program Director

Dr. Madonna Fernandez-Frackelton

Welcome to the Harbor-UCLA Department of Emergency Medicine. Established in 1978, we are one of the oldest training programs in the country, and we have earned our position of prestige in the house of Emergency Medicine. We have trained ~500 Emergency Physicians, many of whom are in leadership roles in their own departments and in national organizations. I have been at Harbor-UCLA since residency in 1996, but this place won my heart in 1995 when I rotated as an away medical student. I have worked in a number of other facilities, and none has matched the experience and satisfaction of working at Harbor-UCLA. I am thrilled to have served as the Program Director since 2011, and strive to carry on the strong tradition of excellence in education and patient care. Other than location, there are six aspects applicants consider when evaluating training programs: the patients, the residents, the faculty, the department, the institution, and the alumni. Harbor-UCLA exceeds expectations in all six areas.

Our Patients…are clearly the primary reason applicants rank Harbor-UCLA #1 on their match lists. We serve the working poor of South Los Angeles, seeing over 100,000 patients a year in our adult and pediatric EDs combined. We have a diverse population with a remarkable variety and acuity of medical pathology. We also serve as the Level 1 Trauma Center for the South Bay, which encompasses inner city communities to affluent beach and bluff communities, and also includes the industrial oil refineries, the Ports of Los Angeles and San Pedro, and LAX (Los Angeles International Airport). This remarkable patient experience is supplemented by 6 rotations at 5 different community hospitals to give residents a well-rounded education.

Our Residents… come to Harbor-UCLA because they want to work with and learn from our amazing patients in a setting that allows them to provide excellent care while learning from some of the best faculty in the nation. We recruit some of the brightest, most compassionate doctors in the country with diversity in interests and backgrounds. We groom future leaders in all areas of Emergency Medicine including those going into academics and community-based practices. Residents who do well here are committed to working hard, caring for patients, and promoting their own learning as well as the learning of the entire team.

Our Faculty… simply love this place, and love to teach! We have amazing longevity, which is something I encourage all applicants to look at when interviewing at programs. Low turnover translates to happy faculty. Even when people retire from Harbor-UCLA, they don’t leave. I have the distinct pleasure of saying that Dr. Robert Hockberger, one of the grandfathers of EM, who “retired” several years ago, shadows all of our interns each 3 times a year and provides them and me with immediate feedback. Additionally, we have mentors in almost all areas of EM including Pediatrics, EMS, Research, Toxicology, Ultrasound, Medical Education, and Medical Administration. Our faculty are nationally and internationally recognized, and are also actively involved in our own institution and in working with residents. We have 64 residents, and only 26 core faculty. All faculty work clinically, so even though it is a large program, it still feels like a family.

Our Department…is as equally committed to patient care as it is to education. The two cannot be separated. The most evident aspect of this commitment is teaching rounds…we start and end EVERY shift with one hour of attending-supervised rounds, which occurs in a private room.
During this time, we sign out patients to the on-coming team, review labs and imaging, and have focused teaching on each case. Additionally, the attendings and sometimes the senior residents typically provide a 5-10 minute mini-lecture. This assures not only safe patient hand-off, but ongoing education for all learners. Additionally, the department leadership is receptive to feedback and is continually evaluating and changing aspects of the educational program and the clinical learning environment based almost entirely on resident input. Residents are actively involved in committees, and their opinions are highly valued as frontline team members.

Our Institution…supports our department. We are respected by the other departments in the hospital and actually have admitting privileges to all services in the hospital. We have the pleasure of having excellent consultation, teaching, and patient care provided by all the other services in our institution. Our leadership is available and receptive to input from all staff in the institution and is committed to our vision “…to be the leading choice for patient care, education, and innovation in our community.”

Our Alumni…are everywhere! We have a vast alumni network including graduates from our residency and fellowships, and many are in leadership positions in their departments, and in local and national organizations around the country and the world. The current SAEM president-elect and the current and most recent past presidents of ABEM are all Harbor-UCLA graduates. I am proud to be a part of Harbor-UCLA and look forward to training future leaders in EM for years to come.