A Brief History of Stanford EM Residency

With gratitude to resident Dylan Lukato, MD, Class of 2023, for compiling this history!

The Stanford Emergency Medicine Residency Program (Stanford EM residency) is one of the oldest emergency medicine residency programs in California!

The Beginning

The idea of a residency was sparked by the robust clinical experience at Stanford, which comprised a high-volume emergency department and a patient population with high acuity and medical complexity.  In 1987, Dr. Rebecca Smith-Coggins began to craft a new residency program that included multiple medical education workshops and comprehensive training. The resulting application to the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) was more than 500 pages!

In 1989, following a site visit, ACGME granted the residency program accreditation. In that same year, Dr. Gus Garmel joined Kaiser Santa Clara and co-directed the program with Dr. Smith-Coggins for the next 23 years. The Stanford EM residency was officially founded in 1990 and the first class started the following year.

The highlight of our clinical curriculum was a strong focus on critical care and pediatric emergency medicine. Early exposure to diverse clinical sites was also a signature of the program, and our residents rotated through Stanford, Kaiser Santa Clara, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, and San Francisco General Hospital.


In 2002, Dr. Philip Harter became the program director. Training expanded from clinical excellence to also include soft science skills, with residents training to become leaders in emergency medicine. During Dr. Harter’s tenure and under his leadership the residency program grew almost threefold, from 24 to 60 residents! 


In 2015, Dr. Harter passed the program director role to Dr. Sarah Williams. During her four years of leadership, Dr. Williams formalized a new four-year curriculum highlighted by the Advanced Clinical and Career Enrichment Line (ACCEL) Program—including over 75 electives—to allow residents the opportunity to explore and develop their desired niche in emergency medicine, with mentorship from Stanford faculty experts. 


Since 2020, Stanford EM Residency has been under the leadership of Dr. Sara Krzyzaniak. While medical education faced unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, the challenges in turn created unprecedented opportunities to grow. Stanford EM Residency continues to evolve to educate skilled clinicians, innovators, and future global leaders.  Learn more.


As  one of the oldest programs in the country, our expansive alumni network comprises not only physicians but also medical directors and hospital administrators, policy makers, tech company CEOs, and even an astronaut!