Avoid common errors on PIFs

Residency Program Insider, February 2, 2005

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Dear residency program colleague:

We all get the opportunity to complete a Program Information Form (PIF), or its equivalent, for our Residency Review Committee of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.

Over the years, I have had the pleasure and privilege of reviewing PIFs for several general surgery programs. In the hopes of making this process run more smoothly, I would like to share with you the following common errors I've seen when reviewing these important documents:

  • The numbers in Section 15, Clinical Component, do not add up. The site visitor will take the time to add up your weeks/months and will ask questions about discrepancies. These numbers must match throughout the PIF. I have seen forms that stated that the PGY1 year was 13 months. I have also reviewed forms that indicated in Section 15 of the form that the PGY2 vascular surgery rotation was one month, but in the text answers stated that the rotation was two months. Consistency is the key.
  • The answer does not address the question asked or is too detailed. Be sure that your answers are concise and get to the point quickly. For example, if you are requesting a change in the resident compliment, provide substantial supportive statistical data instead of writing paragraphs about the excellence of the program and faculty.
  • In the free text sections, refrain from referring to the resident teams by a team name, color, or letter. Frankly, the site visitor doesn't care whether the team is red, blue, or purple. The site visitor would rather know that the team is the residents on the general surgery rotation at Hospital X--a much clearer descriptor of your training program.
  • An organized PIF is essential. Be sure the responses in the final copy are all in the same font, and avoid grammar and spelling errors. This attention to detail says a lot about your program and provides the reviewer with a positive first impression.
  • Watch out for leaps of faith in your text writing explanations. Always review your PIF from the perspective of someone who knows nothing about your training program.

With the advent of the core competencies and the increased emphasis on education, evaluation, and outcome measures, all programs will need to demonstrate their ability to provide more than just adequate training. The PIF is here to stay. Hopefully, you will consider some of these common errors as you prepare future PIFs.

That's all for this week!

All the best,

Ruth H. Nawotniak, MS
TAGME president
General Surgery Program Coordinator
University at Buffalo
State University of New York



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