This is No Joke: A Serious GME Month Wrap-Up

benzilGuest Post from Deborah L. Benzil, MD, FACS, FAANS
Vice President, AANS
Chair, AANS/CNS Communications and Public Relations Committee
Mount Kismo Medical Group
Columbia University Medical Center
Mt Kisco, New York

FINAL INFOThis is no joke. The future of the American health care system rests firmly on the shoulders of our graduate medical education (GME) system. This system provides the essential transition from the mostly theoretical education and necessary foundations in medical school through supervised, progressive responsibility of residency to independent practice. These are also the years that can serve as the foundation for the innovation that tomorrow’s doctors will bring for new treatment interventions and thus improved value and quality in patient care. Unfortunately, the GME system can also serve as a critical “bottleneck” to solving the looming physician shortage crisis, as the total number of currently available positions does not correspond to future needs. This last statement is, even more, concerning since many agree that it is true but we lack a precise method for predicting exactly how much of a gap we will have to expect.

Given the absolute importance of this system, we give our sincere thanks to all those who are devoted to making these GME programs succeed, especially the dedication of:

  • Faculty;
  • Medical schools; and
  • Academic Health Centers and Teaching Hospitals.

We also acknowledge the complex system of players who are directly involved in GME programs, just to name a few:

Perhaps most importantly, we thank our patients, many of whom put their faith in the hands of our nation’s teaching hospitals. Without you, we would not be able to train and educate the next generations of physicians.

Throughout the month of March (and part of April) — in rapid succession that led us to invoke similarities to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball tournament’s “March Madness,” — we have focused on the breadth and depth of issues related to GME:

Neurosurgery has been on the frontlines and in the trenches on many important GME issues notably innovation in education, responsible duty hour regulations and programs that encourage clinical research led by talented physicians. Our specialty will continue to play a crucial role in helping to educate stakeholders and understand better the complex GME system. We all need a system that ensures that we all will have excellent physicians to care for us in the future in case we need a doctor. Of all things uncertain in the future of healthcare, this is an almost certainty.

Editor’s Note: We encourage everyone to join the conversation online by using the hashtag #GMEMatters.

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