Building on their sturdy foundation of training, our boomerangs are introducing innovations to the residency program, with the new ACGME regulations as impetus. Among the six core competencies that the program must teach are two that we’ve always excelled in: medical knowledge and patient care. The four new competencies are interpersonal communication, professionalism, practice-based learning, and systems-based practice.
Pruett has found an ideal way to help residents develop the latter competency: Any complaint about a process perceived as not working efficiently becomes a systems-based practice project. Recently a group of residents streamlined the cumbersome process of doing intravitreal injections. Now, when a patient needs an injection, the residents—rather than having to collect from disparate sources the consent, the injection, the needles, the markers, the Betadine—can simply take from a shelf their completed project: a pre-assembled intravitreal injection kit.
Pruett and Cribbs have also made changes in the program’s didactic training. For instance, there’s a new curriculum on business and medicine, involving lectures on billing and coding, contract negotiation, and disability insurance. Olsen is teaching a monthly interactive series for residents called iLearn, which encourages residents to review medical literature critically and also to develop a lifelong habit of reading current medical literature that is relevant to their work.
Cribbs, in line with Aaron’s research on generational traits, says, “We’re trying to keep the didactic program current in terms of new technology in ophthalmology as well as in updated methods of teaching. Today’s residents have grown up having information come at them in high volume and loud covers, and that’s how they learn best. Standing up in front of them and reading notes doesn’t keep trainees’ attention.”
And definitely, justifiably, quietly – the proud
To return to Trotter’s question: Why does someone choose to teach residents? And, once realizing what the job demands, why keep doing it? Residency directors at other programs, Olsen estimates, average only four or five years.
Definitely, this role is innate—a passion, a calling. Justifiably, it’s kindled by inspiring mentors. And quietly, it can be transferred from one who knows, to a handpicked successor who really “gets” what’s possible.
But the clincher on the deal is the investment that returns again and again: the challenges met, the confident graduates, the sense of oneself as a single link in a chain of healing that reaches farther than any of us can see.
Broocker: I look back after just celebrating my 25th-year anniversary, and with rare exception I am extremely proud of our trainees. They make what I decided to do with my life worthwhile.
Aaron: Every time I see directors of other ophthalmology programs, they tell me how happy they are to have accepted our residents, because our graduates are not only well trained, but are also such good people.
Cribbs: I’m proud to see our residents graduate—to have watched them develop from bright, promising students to accomplished physicians. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Jones: You can’t beat the training here, so that’s why I’ve stayed. I saw this as a chance to learn from people who are big names in ophthalmology education: Dr. Broocker, Dr. Aaron, and now, Dr. Pruett. I couldn’t ask for better people to be around.
Pruett: Our residents transition from knowing nothing about ophthalmology to handling well even the most complex things. They go all over the country getting the job or fellowship they want, keeping up the reputation Emory has developed. I’m just helping to carry that on.
Editor’s note: Emory Eye Center’s residency program was visited by the ACGME last April for its five-year site review. Paul Pruett happily reports that the program received a full 10-year cycle. Congratulations to all who had a part in making this honor possible.