Tip of the month: Foster a relationship with the GME office to meet ACGME requirements

Residency Program Insider, July 5, 2011

Want to receive articles like this one in your inbox? Subscribe to Residency Program Insider!

With the new ACGME requirements going into effect last Friday, be prepared for your institution's GME office to get more involved in your program's day-to-day dealings. Here are few tips to build a relationship with the GME office from Thomas Blackwell, MD, associate dean of graduate medical education at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston and Emily Clark, education coordinator at University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical Center.

Communicate, communicate, and then communicate some more. Speak openly and often with the GME office. Both Blackwell, from the perspective of DIO and as head of the GME office, and Clark, as a program coordinator, cannot stress this point enough. "There is a lot of ¬complexity and multiple layers, all kinds of due ¬processes that have to be done, [such as] hiring new residents. There's a -contractual process that has to occur. All of that has to be done correctly," says Blackwell. That means back-and-forth conversations and paperwork between each program and GME.
Clark says her willingness to communicate openly has made her a reliable source and helped her program. What also helped is doing what she calls double-checking. "I'm pretty sure I know the answer is yes, but by calling or e-mailing or talking to them and just making sure, they're like, ‘Of course it's okay, but we really appreciate you making sure,' " Clark says. "They're here to help and want to be included. Nobody likes surprises."

Involve the program director. Although the coordinator typically handles the day-to-day interactions with the GME office, remember to keep the program director in the loop. That way if a difficult situation arises, the program director is already aware of it, Clark says. "It can be hard as the coordinator to say, ‘Hi, I need this to happen.' The coordinator position is very vague. Some people see it as secretarial or assistant, whereas the training director is the doctor and tends to have more clout," she says.

Make each other's lives easier. It's a two-way street. The coordinator can remove burdens from the GME office. Clark suggests asking how you can make life easier for those in the GME office rather than the other way around. "If they send out an e-mail saying they need a copy of this, send it to them and try to be first. Be helpful, as helpful as you can be," she advises. "Whatever you can do to help them help you is fantastic."

The GME office is also there to assist each residency program as much as possible. "[We're] the people on campus with the greatest amount of knowledge in how to structure your program so that you don't run afoul of any of the Common Program Requirements and the institutional requirements," Blackwell says.

This week’s tip is from Residency Program Alert. 

Want to receive articles like this one in your inbox? Subscribe to Residency Program Insider!

Most Popular