Melissa C. Janse, MD
Director of Undergraduate Medical Education
Department of Emergency Medicine, Greenville Health System
Clinical Assistant Professor
University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville
Clemson University School of Health Research
What is your most memorable moment of teaching?
I think that it was walking into our brand new medical school ready to meet my small group students for the first time. I wanted that teaching position more than anything and was extremely nervous. I had been up late the night before, reviewing the chapter multiple times, taking notes, memorizing my students’ names and faces on the roster, and even stressing about what to wear. I wasn’t sure if I was up to the task, but as I began to relax, and the students excitedly asked questions (and I actually knew the answers), I realized that I could do this.
Who or what is your biggest influence?
It isn’t any one person/event, but more a composite of what I learned from my emergency medicine residency training. I remember the attending that brought in a dead copperhead that had been run over by a car, just to show us the differences between venomous and non-venomous snakes. I remember the attending that calmly intubated and saved the life of a patient that had de-saturated to the 50s and was becoming bradycardic after an intern and I (the second year resident) failed to secure the airway. I remember my mistakes, my “saves,” and how I felt afterwards as well as the mentorship I received from my attendings. I try to channel this when I teach now so that students know they are not alone. I figure that they can learn from my past mistakes and successes as well as their own.
Any advice for other clerkship directors?
I truthfully had very little idea of what a clerkship director actually did when I jumped on the opportunity. I learned on the job, sought mentors, and reached out to CDEM for advice. Emergency Medicine is a small, close community. Take advantage of CDEM and the collective wisdom of your peers. They want you to succeed.
What is your favorite part about being and educator/director?
I am excited about my job all over again. After the initial fervor from medical school and residency waned, I grew complacent if not jaded as an attending. But now I see my job from the perspective of new learners. Their enthusiasm rejuvenates me. I find my students’ eagerness to learn a personal challenge, as I am always trying to stay a few steps ahead of them and keep up to date. Teaching has definitely made me a better, not to mention much happier, Emergency Medicine physician.
Any interesting factoids you would like to share?
I went straight from residency to a private, independent group contracted by a hospital (Greenville Health System) to staff their multiple emergency departments. The compensation was lucrative, but I was working strictly for a paycheck and did not find my job fulfilling. I dropped to half time, working just enough hours to maintain benefits as I tried to balance my role of wife and mother of three with that of a physician. Fifteen years later, as part of its commitment to being an academic health center, Greenville Health System created an independent department of Emergency Medicine making its EM physician employees, started a new medical school (University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville), and pledged resources to begin an Emergency Medicine residency program. I got the opportunity to teach at the medical school and be the EM clerkship director, increased my hours, and have never been happier with my career. USCSOMG graduated its first class this past spring, our department just finished hosting our very first visiting student rotations, and our accredited GHS EM residency program will begin next summer.