College of Medicine hosts inaugural conference for graduate medical education coordinators

On May 10, Penn State College of Medicine’s Office of Graduate Medical Education hosted the inaugural Northeast Graduate Medical Education Coordinators Conference at the University Conference Center, designed to reach those people who provide support for residency and fellowship programs at institutions across the northeastern United States.

Registered attendees included approximately 100 graduate medical education professionals from 31 institutions across seven states. The idea for this conference was a direct result of feedback from coordinators that many of them do not have the opportunity to attend national conferences due to budget or time constraints. As proponents for professional development, and understanding the need for an affordable alternative, the members of the Graduate Medical Education Committee secured the support of campus leadership to sponsor and organize the event.

People are seen sitting around circular tables in a large conference space, listening to a speaker. Two large screens are on the front wall.

Attendees listen to Dr. Steven Allen speak at the inaugural Northeast Regional Graduate Medical Education Coordinators Conference held May 10.

The day began with breakfast, and attendees participated in a “Human Bingo” ice-breaker game. Networking between coordinators is crucial for the role, and the day provided ample opportunities over lunch and during a best practices sharing session in the afternoon.

The first two presenters addressed the currently trending topic of wellness. Dr. Kelly Holder, director of the Office of Student Mental Health and Counseling at Penn State College of Medicine, shared information on the Mental Health First Aid program, in which she is a certified instructor. Dr. Ron McLean, director of the Office for Faculty and Physician Wellness, gave tips and tricks on how to sustain resilience. During the professional development portion of the day, the graduate medical education administrative manager and various residency and fellowship coordinators from Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center discussed the development of the coordinator career ladder, TAGME certification and the GME Coordinator Lunch and Learn Series.

During lunch, Dr. Michael Hayes from the College’s Department of Psychiatry led the attendees in a mindful eating session and stressed the importance of being mindful during everyday activities.

The afternoon included presentations from individuals in various graduate medical education roles. Dr. Sandra Toth, vascular surgery resident, gave her insight on the recruitment process. Using his program as an example, the program director from the general surgery residency, Dr. Steven Allen, discussed the important relationship between the program director and coordinator in managing a successful program. Dr. David Han, vascular surgeon and member of the ACGME Resident Review Committee for surgery, explained the role of the review committee and how it can serve as a resource and program success partner. The day ended with Dr. Edward Bollard, Designated Institutional Official (DIO) at the medical center, discussing his role as DIO and his top 10 skills for coordinators.

The members of the conference planning committee expressed their gratitude for the support and involvement of the Office of Graduate Medical Education and the key faculty and staff who helped make the day a success. The committee received positive feedback from attendees and hopes to make the program an annual event.

Five women are pictured standing in a lobby in front of individual balloons with the numbers 2-0-1-9 on them visible behind their heads.

Members of the inaugural Northeast Graduate Medical Education Coordinators Conference planning committee are, from left, Jennifer Swierczynski, Mandi Smith, Mary Forshey, Lauren Talhelm and Jennifer Koser.

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