Tip of the week: Be your own advocate

Residency Program Insider, December 8, 2009

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Although raises and promotions are hard to come by in this economy, coordinators should continue to lay the groundwork for professional development. One of the best ways coordinators can promote themselves is to become proactive learners. Advocate for learning opportunities for yourself and your peers. Participate in professional development courses and seminars that your institution offers and utilize what you learn to improve your working environment or practices. Similarly, participate in national GME meetings. These meetings are a place where coordinators can network with peers and become involved in discussions regarding common activities. They also provide leadership opportunities for coordinators.

Another way to promote yourself is to make others aware of what you do. Talk about your job and the many administrative functions you perform. Most human resource departments do not know exactly what the program coordinator job entails. Review your job description so that it adequately reflects what is expected of a program coordinator.

Look closely at the wording—you may need to change only the action verbs to reflect managerial tasks as opposed to clerical tasks. For example, phrases such as “update program database systems on a regular basis” make the function sound clerical. Instead, change it to sound more managerial, such as “manage the database systems, and analyze and report results.”

To find the right words for your job description, consider accessing Bloom’s Taxonomy. This is a classification of the higher levels of learning that require more complex cognitive processes. Also look at job descriptions your institution has for managers and administrators. Use the same phrasing to describe your job functions.

Promote the coordinator role on an institutional level, too. Encourage your GME office to
offer workshops for coordinators if it doesn’t already do so. Get the ball rolling by offering to help develop an agenda and organize the meeting. Additionally, volunteering for special assignments or sitting on committees, such as internal review committees, are excellent ways to learn and grow professionally. These activities will demonstrate to others that you are responsible, committed to your profession, and interested in learning.

Finally, national certification is now available for many program coordinators. In 2002, the National Board of Certification for Training Administrators of Graduate Medical Education (TAGME) was formed. Coordinators created TAGME to acknowledge the expertise needed to successfully manage a GME program. It established standards for the profession and recognized those training program administrators who have achieved competence in all fields related to their profession. TAGME’s mission is to ensure a comprehensive level of services, training, knowledge, and leadership through certification. It is a voluntary process. Certification is based on meeting established criteria and successfully completing a comprehensive assessment tool.

This week’s tip is from The Complete Residency Program Management Guide, by Ruth H. Nawotniak, MS, C-TAGME.

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