Residency

Understanding program coordinator protected time

Residency Program Insider, June 2, 2020

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Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from HCPro’s new book, The Guide for Graduate Medical Education Offices and Program Coordinators. Click here to order your copy.

For the first time, the ACGME requirements address protected time for program coordinators. This is a good thing! If we look at the Common Program Requirements for residency programs, they state that, at a minimum, the program coordinator must be supported at 50% FTE for administrative time. I believe that the ACGME became prescriptive in the guidelines because of the unique knowledge and skillset that a program coordinator must possess. Not only is the program coordinator a leader in the department, but handling three or four trainees can be just as labor intensive as handling 10–20 trainees, given that the same requirements apply for programs of all different sizes.

If we look at the Common Program Requirements for fellowship program coordinators, the ACGME is less prescriptive, stating only that “the program coordinator must be provided with support adequate for administration of the program based upon its size and configuration.” I don’t believe that the difference between the two regulations is meant to penalize fellowship coordinators with less protected time. I believe that, because there are so many fellowships in the United States and internationally, it would have been difficult for many small fellowships to allocate 50% protected time. And typically, fellowships draw their policies, program evaluation committee guidance, and clinical competency committee operation from close collaboration with the main residency program. This may be another reason that the coordinator fellowship guidelines are less restrictive.
 



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