When considering a trauma physician candidate, you need to understand how he or she will function on the job. The gold standard is personal experience—hiring one of your program's residents or a physician you have worked with in the past. But absent firsthand experience, the next best way to assess a candidate is to conduct an oral examination based on trauma team scenarios:
Clinical scenarios. Ask the candidate to tell you what they do when they suspect a hemothorax that may require operative exploration. What factors do they consider? What is their philosophy for resuscitative thoracotomy? How do they decide when to leave a colostomy versus primary anastomosis? Ask about the grey, or controversial, areas in clinical management. Even if you do not agree with the candidate’s perspective, you will very quickly see whether they are dogmatic about their views and how they respond to disagreement.
Non-clinical scenarios. It is also important to understand how a candidate deals with the many management headaches and organizational challenges that surround trauma care. How would the candidate handle a disagreement with the ICU charge nurse over clinical management? What would they do if they felt that referrals were not being distributed fairly? How would they react if the ER was consistently “dumping” intoxicated patients on their service?