From the GME office: Tips for building a relationship with your GME office

Residency Program Insider, October 21, 2008

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In some institutions, there is a feeling of animosity between the GME office staff and residency coordinators. Often, this is due to a lack of communication between the two entities. GME staff may not fully understand the day-to-day activities of coordinators, and coordinators may not understand the role of the GME office members.

Communication between GME office staff members and residency coordinators is essential. The following tips will help you work with your GME office.

Think partnership. Residency programs and the GME office must work together. Avoid the us-vs.-them mentality. We are in this together. The GME office is responsible for the success of the institution; coordinators are responsible for the success of the program. In order to survive, both entities have to collaborate to achieve success.  

The GME office is not the enemy. I know we may seem that way sometimes! The main purpose of the GME office is to assist, guide, and provide the necessary materials, advice, and direction you need to do your job. The GME office works for you; take advantage of that. Explain to GME office members your needs, wants, and issues are so that we can secure resources.  

Ask questions. If you are not receiving the support you need from the GME office staff, let them know. Asking a simple question can often spark important dialogue between coordinators and the GME office that helps the entire GME program. As a coordinator, you should feel free to ask your GME office about anything. The GME office should be able to provide you with answers and direction.

Demand information. Tell the GME office that you want more information. Ask for a newsletter on what is happening in GME. Ask the staff to order subscriptions, books, and other materials that residents, faculty, coordinators, and program directors can use.

GME office staff should foster communication with coordinators. I set up a group e-mail list that includes anyone who has an interest in GME. I sent them articles, tips, tools, and announcements I think they will find helpful. I also have a Web site that I try to keep up to date, and the coordinators are the first ones to tell me when it is out of date!   

Request a coordinator meeting. One of the easiest ways to open the lines of communication is to have regular meetings with coordinators and people in the GME office. I meet with the coordinators every other month, and we have lively discussions on topics that matter to the coordinators. I solicit agenda items from them. It’s a great way to find out what issues they’re struggling with.

The GME office has made many changes based on the information that comes out of these meetings. For example, we changed the timing of reappointments and annual departmental surveys. I used to visit programs every year in the fall to review their programs. Unfortunately, it was during recruitment time. Because our GME office is not involved with the daily activity of recruitment, I had no idea I was causing this much stress for the coordinators. They let me know this was not a good time, and we have readjusted the annual review to occur in the spring—after recruitment and before the Match.  

Talk to the DIO or Director of GME.  Finally, if you are not getting what you need from your GME office, talk to the DIO.  He or she may not be aware that their GME office is not communicating enough or providing the necessary support. The DIO will be able to provide direction to the GME office, advice on how to communicate, and pass along your suggestions.  

Be patient. Opening the doors of communication between coordinators and the GME office will not happen overnight. It will take some time to develop, and there will be bumps along the way.  However, the resulting dynamic will lead to accreditation success, streamlined functions and processes, and support of, and for, each other that is the cornerstone of all highly successful GME programs.


Christine Redovan, MBA
Director of GME and international affairs
MetroHealth Medical Center
Cleveland, OH

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