ACGME Announces New Accreditation System For Medical Residency Programs

February 29, 2012

DoctorsA new accreditation system will be enacted in medical schools across the county to help ensure that the public is being served by competent, empathetic doctors, reported The Chronicle of Higher Education.

However, those changes won't be forthcoming until at least July 2013 and then will be phased in over two years, according to The New England Journal of Medicine. These new guidelines were announced by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).

The first seven of 26 core care areas to be affected by the new guidelines are those for diagnostic radiology, emergency medicine, internal medicine, neurologic surgery, orthopedic surgery, pediatrics and urology. The new accreditation system, called NAS for 'Next Accreditation System,' will be implemented in July 2014 in remaining core areas.

"In designing this new system for accrediting medical residency programs, ACGME has created a new framework for thinking about and organizing graduate medical education in this country," Dr. Thomas Nasca, chief executive officer of the ACGME, said in a PR Newswire press release. "Our goal is simple - to create a system of physician education that can rapidly adapt to new knowledge, technology and capabilities, and is responsive to the public needs."

Under the new NAS, residents will need to pass competencies in six areas. These include interpersonal skills and communication, medical knowledge, patient practice, practice-based learning and improvement, professionalism, and systems-based practice. These student assessments will be reported back to the ACGME every six months. Committees will look to see what medical school programs have met annual milestones and made steps toward accomplishing key data points. Down the road, programs that have high success in meeting objectives could be allowed more freedom to innovate. The goal of NAS is multi-fold but includes making doctors more ready to practice and to make the accreditation system more outcome-based.

"There is now widespread consensus that moving to an outcomes-based accreditation system will prepare physicians to deliver quality patient care and be skilled in evidence-based medicine, team-based care, care coordination and share decision-making, all critical to practicing medicine in an increasingly complex health care system," Dr. Nasca said in the press release.

The NAS will be in effect in some 9,000 U.S. medical programs that fall under the umbrella of accreditation by the ACGME. However, some medical school directors are not entirely on board with NAS.

"My reservation about the milestones is that they could be so prescriptive that the reporting requirements will eat up a lot of adminstrators' time," Dr. Stephen Baker, manager of sundry residency programs at New Jersey's University of Medicine and Dentistry, told The Chronicle. "I'm taking a wait-and-see position."

Compiled by Maggie O'Neill


"ACGME Announces Plan to Transform How Medical Residency Programs Will Educate Future Physicians for a Changing Health Care System," prnewswire.com, February 22, 2012

"New Accreditation System Will Require Medical Residents to Shows Skills and Traits," chronicle.com, February 28, 2102, Katherine Mangan

"The Next GME Accreditation System - Rationale and Benefits," nejm.org, February 22, 2012, Thomas Nasca, Ingrid Philibert, Timothy Brigham and Timothy Flynn

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