The professional coordinator

Residency Program Insider, November 21, 2006

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The professional coordinator

Den mother. Social planner. Manager. Cheerleader. Arbitrator. Counselor. Team leader. These descriptions only scratch the surface of the role of a residency program coordinator.

The coordinator is counselor, advocate, resource, and advisor to both residents and the program director. Increased accreditation requirements-in particular the ACGME outcome project-resulted in a change in expectations for everyone. Notably, they required the coordinator to learn high-level skills that elevate the position from that of a clerk or secretary to that of a manager and administrator.

Just as physicians and residents need to maintain professionalism to succeed at their positions, coordinators should project a professional demeanor in their positions. One way to think about the professional responsibilities of the position is to adapt ACGME's six core competencies for the coordinator position. The following skills define the professional coordinator's competency in six areas:

1. Patient care = Resident, program director, and residency program care The professional coordinator needs to

  • be compassionate
  • effectively handle accreditation issues for the health of the program
  • appropriately care for all aspects of the residency program to keep it viable
  • be sensitive to and supportive of the needs of the program director

    2. Medical knowledge = Job experience and knowledge The professional coordinator needs to know

  • common, institutional, and clinical specialty program requirements
  • evolving board and accreditation processes and standards
  • how to apply knowledge to care for the residency training program and keep it healthy

    3. Practice-based learning and improvement = Practice-based learning and improvement The professional coordinator needs to

  • network about and evaluate the program
  • appraise the residency, looking at trends in GME
  • improve the residency by applying information learned through networking and evaluation

    4. Interpersonal and communication skills = Interpersonal and communication skills The professional coordinator must

  • communicate effectively with program director, residents, ACGME, the board, GME office, and applicants
  • be able to network with appropriate institutions and individuals to share information to enhance the residency
  • take role as counselor, liaison, and advocate to heart, being able to listen as well as being able to speak

    5. Systems-based practice = Resource management The professional coordinator must

  • demonstrate an awareness of and an understanding of the larger context of graduate medical education
  • know not only where to go, but also be able to access Web sites and resources to find answers for the needs of the program
  • apply this knowledge for the improvement of the residency program

    6. Professionalism = Professionalism The professional coordinator is

  • committed to doing the job in a responsible manner
  • committed to presenting a professional appearance
  • understanding and respectful of the confidential nature of our jobs

    All the best,

    Ruth Nawotniak

    C-TAGME, MS,
    Residency program coordinator
    General surgery residency program
    State University of New York in Buffalo,

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