Improve GME

How medical residents can master ACGME core-competency requirements

Brendan Murphy , Senior News Writer

The science of medicine and the art of practicing it aren’t always the same thing. That is part of the thinking behind the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education’s (ACGME) core-competency requirements that medical residents must fulfill as part of their training.  

Yet meeting this vital obligation within the already time-squeezed residency training period can be difficult, which is why a set of online educational modules that are compelling to residents and customizable for administrators is an essential complement. 

The AMA GME Competency Education Program (GCEP) is up to the task. The award-winning program provides a superior, engaging educational experience for residents and simple dashboards and reporting to help staff easily manage residents’ progress. 

With contributions by subject-matter experts from around the country, GCEP offerings include more than 30 courses that residents can access online, on their own schedule. Among the experts are several who contributed to the AMA’s "Health Systems Science" textbook, which draws insights from faculty at medical schools that are part of the Association’s Accelerating Change in Medical Education Consortium

Modules cover five of the six topics—patient care, practice-based learning and improvement, interpersonal and communication skills, professionalism, and system-based practice—within the ACGME’s core competency requirements. The sixth requirement, medical knowledge, is one that is typically addressed during clinical education. 

This AMA resource, now being used by one in three resident physicians, has been lauded by residents and GME leaders. A panel of technology professionals gave GCEP the gold prize in the medical education category at the 2018 Digital Health Awards.   

The AMA GME Competency Education Program improves residency training through a user-friendly and engaging medium. A recent survey of residents who use GCEP found that the majority of respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with the user experience and platform features. Those users touted the platform’s ease of navigation.  

The program’s modules are designed to ensure that residents are engaged. That means shorter seat times (between five and 20 minutes), frequent knowledge checks aimed at increasing knowledge retention and course scenarios that mirror realistic experiences residents are likely to encounter. The utility of each module—one module has the potential to check off multiple competency-related lessons—allows for residency programs to reduce their current e-learning required curriculum. 

GCEP also makes it easier for administrators to get a snapshot of residents’ usage and tailor it based on program and resident needs, including: 

  • Dashboards to track residents’ progress and completions. 
  • Auto-reminders around due dates. 
  • Customized curriculum, tailored to meet institution’s unique program and resident needs 
  • Assessment results organized by individual, postgraduate year, program or institution. 

Tutorials focus on a broad range of topics such as sleep deprivation, unconscious bias and patient safety. The modules serve to reinforce lessons learned during rounds as well as cover bigger-picture issues that might not arise on a daily, or even weekly, basis. 

William A. Tortoriello, MD, is the associate director of the Deaconess Family Medicine Residency Program in Evansville, Indiana. Deaconess is among the more than 200 institutions using the program. 

“We can touch on a lot of these things every day, when we staff with the residents, but the main issues that we talk with them about is what’s happening with that patient,” Dr. Tortoriello said. “So during the course of a day, an issue like diversity may or may not come up; an issue like confidentiality may or may not come up. We certainly can make everything come up every time, but the problem is it’s hard to incorporate every one of the competencies all day long.” 

GCEP “supplements what we are doing,” Dr. Tortoriello added. “It reinforces what we talk to them about periodically because you can’t talk about everything every time.” 

The AMA GME Competency Education Program gives residency program directors and faculty members the ability to create assignments that address the specific needs of their students. When program directors and managers set curriculum assignments, residents are three times more likely to complete their courses. Dr. Tortoriello, for instance, gives assignments to the first- and second-year residents in his program on an incremental basis. 

“So we don’t overburden them, I set up an assignment every block,” he said. “These are four-week blocks, so over the year they get 12 assignments. And I can go through the assignments and say that this too advanced for the first-years, this isn’t advanced enough for the second-years, and it’s easy to do.” 

For more information about the AMA GME Competency Education Program, or to request a demo, email [email protected]