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Building a Coordinator Team

February 07, 2020
by Tracy Crosby

As so many other fellowship coordinators, I wear more than one hat: Endocrinology Fellowship Coordinator; Clinical Operations Manager; and Founding Member, IMPACT.

What’s IMPACT?

IMPACT started as a group of 12 Internal Medicine fellowship coordinators and has grown to become a multidisciplinary team which includes the GME office, with representatives from the Departments of Pediatrics and Psychiatry. We have about 20 members that meet in this voluntary forum.

How did this all happen?

When I started as a new fellowship coordinator in 2008, I was a bit overwhelmed. I was lucky to have an amazing Program Director who answered every single question. But I felt like I was missing something.

The first year as a GME coordinator is spent learning all the new stuff. The second year, you get to know the ropes, and perhaps start to make improvements. By the third year, you are feeling confident – or something close to confident.

Fast forward a couple years… I’m enjoying GME, but things are changing all around me. I’ve been to a couple of Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) annual conferences and I’m learning a ton. I’m meeting people from other institutions and other specialties. I’m networking outside my institution, which I never thought would happen. But I realized I needed something more: a squad. A posse. A team. Peers and colleagues at my own institution who are in the trenches with me, and who understand what it means to work in GME here at Yale School of Medicine.

The Department of Internal Medicine has a whole bunch of fellowship programs. About a dozen, actually. And then I started to think and question, why don’t we get together as our own group? What if we – the fellowship coordinators in Internal Medicine – had a more formal meeting, separate from the Office of GME’s coordinator meetings? What if all the Internal Medicine fellowship coordinators had a place to actually get to know each other, collaborate, and share best practices?

I reached out, and the response was incredible. People were hungry for it. We had our first meeting in February 2015 and decided to meet again in one month. By April, we had agreed this would be a monthly meeting and we decided on a name: IMPACT or Internal Medicine Program Administrators Collaboration Team.

Each month, we talk about what works and what doesn’t, what’s coming down the pike, what’s new in GME, at the University or within the department. Sometimes we have guest speakers. We mentor the newbies. We also have regular attendees from the Office of GME, Pediatrics, and Psychiatry.

It has been one of the most fulfilling experiences, professionally and personally. It has taught me how to be a leader and has provided me with friendships that have enriched my life in ways I could not have predicted. I have witnessed coordinators leaving their comfort zones and getting Training Administrators of Graduate Medical Education Programs (TAGME) certification or presenting at the annual institutional GME retreat. One is now working with her subspecialty colleagues to create their own coordinator group, of which she will be considered a founding member! She’s on an expert panel at the inaugural coordinator conference within their subspecialty’s annual meeting!

And the most amazing aspect? This is voluntary. Absolutely no one requires them to attend this meeting. But they come.

When I asked the group for comments I could include in this piece, the replies blew me away.

  • Excellent resource for fellowship program coordinators.
  • I’ve learned so much from seasoned coordinators and guest speakers.
  • A platform to share information face-to-face.
  • Wonderful mix of new and experienced coordinators sharing ideas in a smaller, more intimate setting than our larger group meetings.
  • This group is supported and appreciated by the GME office.
  • Having a group of individuals that share the same responsibilities, especially with regards to program requirements, orientation and training, and the sometimes grueling on-boarding process has taken a lot of stress away from the job.
  • We have been able to streamline countless forms and ways of doing things for all of our fellowship programs. I appreciate meeting with this group of wonderful, smart women, to hear their thoughts and opinions on all aspects of our roles and duties as program coordinators.
  • I wouldn’t have made it through my first year successfully without IMPACT.

That right there is why I started this whole thing. To hear that one person felt it helped her navigate something which most of us had to learn on our own is amazing.

Mic drop.

If you feel like your program/department/institution is missing something, figure out what it is, and then go get it/develop it/create it. It will take time. You’ll hit a couple snags along the way. But you’ve got the skills and the resources. There’s a whole GME world out there, ripe for the exploring. Don’t be shy. You’ll surprise yourself with what you can accomplish.

If you build it, they will come.

Submitted by Julie Parry on February 06, 2020