Member Highlight: Jennifer Avengo, MD, MA
Jennifer Avegno, MD, MA
Clinical Associate Professor, LSU Emergency Medicine
Community Health Relations and Engagement
Director of Student Rotations
Jennifer Avegno currently serves as Associate Program Director and Director of Undergraduate Education for the LSU – New Orleans Section of Emergency Medicine, where she is a Clinical Associate Professor. A proud New Orleans native, she is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame (go Irish), and has a master’s degree from Tulane University and MD from LSU – New Orleans. She completed her residency in EM at the famed Charity Hospital in New Orleans in 2005, just months before Katrina unceremoniously destroyed it. Since then, she has been involved with student and resident education and community health engagement in areas of violence intervention, sexual assault, homelessness and Hotspotting. Since assuming EM Clerkship Director
duties for both Tulane and LSU Schools of Medicine, she has developed and directs 3 separate rotations in the ED at University Medical Center that serve nearly 400 learners per year. She is active on several local boards and community organizations, and though fairly nerdy still gets to ride in the largest all-female Mardi Gras parade during Carnival. Jennifer and her husband enjoy the adventure that is parenting four children, and she is grateful for the relative calm of her inner-city, urban teaching hospital ED compared to a typical night at home.
- What is your most memorable moment of teaching?
I developed a mandatory course for senior students designed to ensure that no matter what their specialty, they had exposure to acutely ill, undifferentiated patients (in the ED), and thus would hopefully not fear the “sick” patients they encountered in residency and beyond. An intern who had previously completed the course stopped me on the street one day on a visit home and said, “I never would have taken a course that forced me to see really sick patients … but because I did, I was able to know what to do on a crashing patient in the ICU.” The confidence in her eyes was an honor to see and know our efforts had made a difference.
- Who or what is your biggest influence?
My mother – the most intelligent person I know – was a longtime educator at a local high school. Every day, she prepared to teach 16-year old girls as if she was about to defend a dissertation or debate a seasoned scholar. She never made more than the average intern or received much academic praise or advancement; yet she did it with passion and not a month goes by that someone doesn’t tell me “your mother made such an impact on me.” Education is a job where the rewards are often unseen by the educator, but substantial to the learner.
- Any advice for other clerkship directors?
Don’t be afraid to tell it like it is, particularly to those students you are advising on a career in EM. It took me several years to learn that delivering direct, honest advice or feedback – however painful – is far better than sparing feelings or always presenting the “best case” scenario. And – having a supportive residency director makes life easy and the job much more doable. If anyone knows the headache of scheduling didactics, setting curriculum, and arranging clinical duties while making sure everyone shows up on time, it’s the PD.
- What is your favorite part about being and educator/director?
I love exposing students going into non-EM specialties to what we do. Before they rotate, they often have jaded or inaccurate ideas about how the ED operates … once they’ve worked a few nights in the trenches, there’s a whole new appreciation that hopefully they’ll bring to their own fields. Plus, everyone’s best stories as a student come from their EM experience.
- Any interesting factoids you would like to share?
I think being a Clerkship Director is the most fun you can have in a residency program. From the sublime (that visiting student who is so fabulous the nurses beg you to hire them on the spot) to the ridiculous (the kid who is so disengaged on a night shift that they start reading Harry Potter and instantly incur the collective wrath of your entire residency) – students always keep it interesting.