Peter A Schwartz, MD, GME Physician Leader
Current position(s) and title(s)
Assistant Secretary and Vice-President Elect, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
1987-2005: Chair, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Director, obstetrics and gynecology residency program
The Reading Hospital and Medical Center, Reading, PA
BA, Harvard College; MD, Boston University Medical School; Residency, Yale, New Haven Hospital
Special area(s) of clinical/research/educational interest
Medical ethics, professionalism, patient safety and medical liability risk
Why are you a program director/DIO/leader in GME?
For me, one of life’s most wonderful feelings comes from the sense of renewal. Springtime with the growth of flowers, New Year Eve’s resolutions and, for me, each new resident class provides moments of great joy and excitement. Although I enjoyed 13 years exclusively in private practice with minimal resident teaching, residency education and taking an active role in developing resident education has been a truly exhilarating experience. Knowing that when my practice days are over some of my thoughts and teachings may continue to benefit patients of another generation of physicians is simultaneously heady and humbling. Can there be a better legacy?
What are the important issues today in GME?
Reducing resident duty hours has been a formidable challenge, especially for the surgical specialties. To succeed, we must foster creativity and be unwilling to settle for anything other than an improved product. It would be ludicrous to believe that we can continue to teach as we have and pack increasing educational demands into a smaller number of hours. In my view, improved teaching techniques, increased use of simulation, educational consortia, OSCEs, etc, will be required for effective GME in the future. Goal-focused and efficient education must more fully supplement, if not supplant, the apprenticeship model.
Another equally important goal is the continued development of competency-based education and competency-based assessment. Although we lack sufficient outcomes data to prove the value of the six general competencies, I believe even the hardened skeptics are beginning to appreciate the virtues of competency-based education.
Knowledge evolves, but compassion, empathy, communication, learning from our behavior, and interacting within the totality of the health care system are enduring standards that we must teach, evaluate, and re-mediate.
If you only had a minute, what advice would you give to a physician in training?
Enjoy and respect your patients, your family, and yourself. Some of the greatest feelings you can have in life are the reflection of appreciation from your patients. Those reflections will be the result of your compassion, your devotion, and your knowledge. Also, set your goals high, underestimating one’s abilities is too common. Then, strive for those goals. Never sell yourself short; your career can be whatever you want it to be.
What advice do you have for aspiring GME leaders?
Helping young physicians achieve their goals, and helping young physicians who are troubled, is likely to be both challenging and fulfilling. Accept those challenges and you will reap the emotional rewards. Approach the frustrations that face us with creative problem solving, not affront. A positive attitude helps solve problems, brings personal and environmental pleasure, and makes one a wonderful role model.
AMA member since
...as long as I can remember.
Personal (family and hobbies)
My career has been both my vocation and avocation. Caring for patients, teaching residents, running a large department, and participating in the politics of medicine have both consumed most of my waking moments and brought me enormous joy. Whatever free time I have is shared with Lynne, my wife of 35 years, and my three children and daughter-in-law. I enjoy sports and bicycle riding, but most importantly spending a few moments with my family.
I have been able to wake up everyday grateful for the opportunities that have been given to me and the excitement that the new day will bring.