Our Strengths

What do the band U2, the drugs AZT & Prozac, Windows 2.0, the Iran-Contra affair, the movie Platoon and UNM Emergency Medicine have in common? They all had momentous events in 1987. The current Vice Chancellor of our Medical School, Paul Roth, became the Chief of the Division of Emergency Medicine within the Department of Family, Community and Emergency Medicine in 1982. Paul Roth, as well as David Sklar, David Doezema and Ed Bernstein, established our residency program in 1987, only eight years after EM was recognized as a medical specialty and before recognition of primary board status, placing us in the early surge of EM residency programs. Dr. Bernstein served as the first Program Director. The key components this group felt were important in the developing specialty were critical care, the community relationship, and a public health emphasis. Dr. Roth also established the New Mexico DMAT team in 1989, which was the first ever DMAT deployed, and became the first Chair when we attained Department status in 1990. In 1995, when Dr. Roth was recruited into institutional leadership, Dr. Sklar became the second Department Chair, after serving as Program Director for several years. Under his leadership for more than a decade, the importance of community involvement, critical care, and humanism and ethics was emphasized and developed. Although retired and able to comfortably enjoy his Emeritus Professorship, Dr. Sklar continues to teach and advise our learners, commuting from Arizona regularly to do so. Mike Richards helped solidify the research mission and funding for our Center for Disaster Medicine and then took over as Chair In 2007 when Dr. Sklar stepped down. He also continued a rather steep trajectory to institutional leadership, and today serves as the Vice Chancellor for Clinical Affairs. Steve McLaughlin followed as Chair in 2011. Dr. McLaughlin had served as Clerkship Director and Residency Program Director, is nationally recognized for his simulation expertise, was the Assistant Dean for Simulation and the Associate Dean for CME before assuming the Chairmanship. Dr. McLaughlin's leadership has continued our department's our strong commitment to education.  

Our unique patient mix is a cornerstone of our program - a result of our history as first the Bernalillo County Indian Hospital, then the county hospital, and our current status as the state's academic referral center, the only Level 1 trauma center, and safety net hospital. Our program founders conceived of a community project for every resident that would provide a connection to those they were serving, and this tradition has carried through to today.  The program founders also had a vision of critical care as a defining feature of emergency medicine, and so they created a curriculum that was heavy in ICU care. Our first dual-trained EM intensivist, Jon Marinaro, returned to the institution in 2006. We now have the largest cohort of EM dual-trained intensivists in the country who are all within the our department. Most of these faculty practice in both the ED and our ICU's, so residents work with them in both venues. One of our other dual-trained intensivists, Isaac Tawil, spearheaded our innovative ED Resuscitation Unit initiative that has really elevated ED resuscitation care and brought "upstairs care downstairs". More recently, Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) was instituted in the ED, and we now have a pre-hospital ECMO team that has has the capability to retrieve from the most remote corners of the state. Our Critical Care track residents train to gain expertise in cannuluation and ECMO physiology.

We have had strong roots in EMS from the start. Bernalillo County EMS is the state's largest agency and Dr. Doezema was the medical director starting in 1983. Lifeguard, the UNMH air ambulance service, started at about the same time. Being a rural state with multiple pre-hospital EMS agencies can be challenging, but also creates a huge opportunity. Our faculty hold medical directorships for the majority of the agencies in the state, including our UNM-based Lifeguard Air Emergency Services, several tribal EMS agencies, and Grand Canyon National Park. Our ACGME-accredited fellowship along with our EMS Consortium Physician Field Response program allows us to give residents a rich EMS experience during our core 3-year longitudinal curriculum or a more focused EMS specialty track.


Our faculty are national experts in Wilderness, Austere, Disaster and International Emergency Medicine. We also have a nationally recognized Wilderness, Improvisational and International Medicine clerkship each spring that residents can selectively participate in if they are on a rotation that allows flexibility. Our Wilderness Medicine group runs the Diploma in Mountain Medicine course that is endorsed by major international mountaineering and rescue organizations. This course has been attended by multiple residents, fellows and faculty.

We have international experts in Wilderness, Austere, Disaster and International Emergency Medicine. We have an internationally recognized Wilderness, Improvisational and International Medicine clerkship each spring that residents can selectively participate in if they are on a rotation that allows flexibility. Our International Mountain Medicine Center runs the Diploma in Mountain Medicine course that is endorsed by major international mountaineering and rescue organizations. Additionally, residents may participate in various wilderness medicine sporting events, as well as occasional national and international wilderness and austere medical activities. Multiple residents, fellows and faculty have attended courses. Interested residents may opt for a wilderness residency track.

We are also nationally known for our unique location and culture, an innovative simulation center, injury prevention research, disaster and international medicine. Our Office of Medical Education is well-supported and much beloved in organizing our residents, fellows and academic faculty.