At least eight weeks in the senior year are set aside as elective time. This is time that may be used to fill perceived gaps in the resident's clinical experience, pursue or continue ongoing research projects or explore an area of clinical interest in more depth.
The Range of electives is as varied as the residents in Emergency Medicine themselves. In the past, several residents have used this time to obtain advanced certification in Infectious Disease at the Gorgas School of Tropical Medicine in Lima, Peru.
Other Popular electives have included Opthalmology, Dermatology, Environmental Medicine and additional time spent in Pediatric Emergency Medicine. Many residents use this clinical time spent off-service to enhance the curriculum of the residency as a whole. This has been done through special presentations at Grand Rounds and the development of curricular elements, such as a module in Tropical Disease.
Electives allow seniors to complete "mini-fellowships" to gain experience and job placement advantages. Many areas of Emergency Medicine have no formal ACGME approved training program and such "mini-fellowships" offer significant opportunity for focused training and experience.
Each Resident is required to complete at least one scholarly activity before graduation. Although this most commonly takes the form of a peer reviewed publication in the Emergency Medicine Literature, other acceptable activities include book chapters, special presentations at the national or international level and still other activities approved by the Residency Office.
Because of their significant teaching responsibilities with the department and at the medical school, all senior residents receive an academic appointment as Clinical Instructor at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine.
Current County policy requires that residents remain within the structure of the Department of Health Services Facilities. Electives at non-County hospitals may, in some cases, be arranged but would result in loss of pay for the time involved, as well as requiring arrangements for appropriate malpractice and personal health insurance.