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Emergency Medicine

Christine Kulstad, M.D.

Associate Professor, Clerkship Co-Director
Department of Emergency Medicine (Preferred method of contact)

Christine Kulstad, M.D.

Secondary Contact

Mary McHugh, M.D.
Assistant Professor, Clerkship Co-Director

About the Specialty

“Emergency medicine is the medical specialty dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of unforeseen illness or injury. ... The practice of emergency medicine includes the initial evaluation, diagnosis, treatment, coordination of care among multiple providers, and disposition of any patient requiring expeditious medical, surgical, or psychiatric care.” – American College of Emergency Physicians, June 2015

Answers to Common Questions

  • Attributes of a Competitive Student

    What factors typically make a student competitive for this specialty?

    Competitive student will have done well on their home and EM rotations, reflected in the standardized letter of evaluation (SLOE). Competitive applicants have a Step 1 OR Step 2 of greater than 230 – don’t give up if you have a lower Step 1 as many students improve substantially on Step 2. Good performance on your core rotations is helpful, as is involvement in leadership, volunteering, or research activities in medical school.

  • Research

    How important is research experience in your specialty? If important, does it need to be in the specialty itself?

    Helpful but not required. Research in the field is more impressive, but many students complete research in a different field.

  • Shadowing

    How can students identify opportunities for shadowing?

    Please contact Silvia Ramirez,, in the Department of Emergency Medicine.

  • Electives

    What electives would you recommend to a student who is interested in pursuing your specialty?

    For MS2, early MS3, EMED 2101. Ultrasound and toxicology electives in our department. In other departments, any ICU, radiology, anesthesia, ortho, and derm.

    Based on your experience, what tips do you have for students to shine on your electives?

    Watch this video on how to give an EM presentation. There are many other helpful links on the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine website, such as the clerkship primer.

  • Away Rotations

    Does your specialty recommend doing away rotations?

    Yes, it is required.

    If your specialty recommends doing away rotations, how many “aways” do you recommend?

    One away in EM. If you’d like to see another program, take an ultrasound, toxicology, EMS, or peds EM rotation at that institution.

    If away rotations are necessary, when should they apply and when should they be completed?

    Students should start applying in the spring. Away rotations are ideally completed in June, July, August, or September.

  • Interview Timing

    Which month do you recommend taking off to interview?

    Most interviews will be in December, with a fair amount in November and January. Interview invitations generally are not released until early to mid-October (later than other specialties).

  • Letters of Recommendation

    How many letters of recommendation are needed to apply to your specialty?


    Does your specialty recommend that all letters of recommendation be written by members of your specialty?

    No. You must have one letter from your home EM department, and one from your away. These must be the standardized letter of evaluation (SLOE).

    If letters can come from other disciplines, do you have a recommendation as to which disciplines are more highly valued?

    Internal medicine and surgery, followed by pediatrics and Ob/Gyn.

    Does the academic rank of the letter writer matter?

    SLOEs are generally written as a group letter, so no. For other letters, it is more helpful if they are a more experienced faculty member.

    Does your specialty require a letter from the chairman?



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