AHCJ pushes for more data on residency programs


The Association of Health Care Journalists has called upon the accreditor of physician residency programs to be more transparent with its data so the public can be better informed about the quality of graduate medical education programs in their communities.

In a letter sent last week to the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, AHCJ praised the group for having a website that includes accreditation decisions for institutions and their individual training programs.

Karl Stark
Karl Stark

But it called on ACGME to publish additional information, echoing a similar call by an Institute of Medicine panel for greater transparency in graduate medical education.

“We believe ACGME can play an even greater leadership role by providing additional information or advocating for its release,” said the letter, signed by AHCJ president Karl Stark. “Doing so would be in keeping with the new Institute of Medicine report, which called for ‘transparency and accountability of GME programs.’”

Specifically, AHCJ asked ACGME to release two sets of information:

  • The reasons why individual programs and institutions have favorable or less-than-favorable accreditation status. This could entail general descriptions, such as, on the positive side, “high pass rates on board exams,” or, on the negative side, “violations of resident work hours” or “inadequate supervision.”
  • The percentage of residents who pass their board exams, as well as the threshold set by each ACGME residency review committee for what constitutes an acceptable program pass rate. (Small residency programs could aggregate the information over more than one year.)

“We understand and respect that the accreditation process is intended chiefly to improve quality, but we also believe that the public – taxpayers who support the program, prospective students, and the institutions’ own patients and staff – can benefit from understanding the strengths and weaknesses of residency programs,” Stark wrote.

The letter was sent to ACGME’s chief executive officer, as well as to three public members of its board of directors.

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