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Doctor and nurse in the operating theater

Residency programs granted full accreditation

By ELLEN GOLDBAUM

Published February 27, 2014

“This is the best possible outcome.”
Michael Cain, vice president for health sciences

UB’s surgery and pediatric surgery residency programs have been granted full accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). University officials were informed of the decision on Feb. 24.

“This is the best possible outcome,” says Michael E. Cain, vice president for health sciences and dean of the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “It is a reflection of the strong partnerships we have with our affiliate hospitals and the community at large through which we will provide the best medical education and patient care as we anticipate our move to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

“This very welcome decision on both the surgery and pediatric surgery residency programs at UB completely validates the changes implemented by the programs in order to address issues raised by the ACGME,” he says.

The ACGME decision, reached at a meeting of its Residency Review Committee last week, was based on extensive data the university submitted that chronicled changes implemented in the surgery and pediatric surgery residency programs, as well as assessments from an ACGME site visit that took place last October.

“The continued accreditation with the next self-study in 2024 for both programs is a vote of confidence from the ACGME and recognizes the efforts of the general surgery and pediatric surgery leadership, faculty, staff and residents,” says Roseanne C. Berger, senior associate dean for graduate medical education. 

In 2011, the surgery and pediatric surgery residency programs had received probationary accreditation as a result of issues related to the culture and learning environment for residents.

“The issues that led to the probationary status were not related to the quality of the end product — our graduating residents — it was how we got to that end product,” says Gregory Cherr, associate professor and general surgery residency program director. “Many of those issues were addressed by allowing residents more opportunity to participate in the oversight of their educational program. That’s a good thing: They now feel more empowered and they have influence over how they are being trained.”

UB’s residents in surgery and pediatric surgery have consistently scored higher than the national average on board exams and surgery residents consistently obtain fellowships at prestigious institutions around the country, he says.

Cherr, who was appointed director of the residency program in 2012, is an accomplished vascular surgeon. A graduate of Tufts School of Medicine, he was one of just six medical educators nationwide to be honored in 2011 with an Arnold P. Gold Foundation scholarship to attend the prestigious Harvard Macy Institute at Harvard University. As a result, Cherr has developed innovative, interdisciplinary leadership and teamwork simulation scenarios for enhancing surgical training through collaboration with UB’s Behling Simulation Center. He also is on the faculty of the UB/Royal College of Physicians Medical Educator Program.

Early last month, Carroll McWilliams (Mac) Harmon, an internationally recognized leader and researcher in minimally invasive surgery and the treatment of adolescent obesity, became professor and chief of pediatric surgery in UB’s Department of Surgery. Harmon also is pediatric surgeon-in-chief at Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, a Kaleida Health facility. He came to UB from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Medicine where he was professor and director of pediatric surgical research. He also was general surgery clinic director at Children’s of Alabama and surgical director of the Children’s Center for Weight Management and the Georgeson Center for Advanced Intestinal Rehabilitation.

Changes that were undertaken by the surgery residency program since 2011 include:

  • Increased emphasis on teamwork and improved opportunities for communication between junior and senior residents and faculty.
  • Implementation of protected conference time for residents.
  • Requirement that residents undergo conflict resolution and teamwork training in a very productive collaboration with the UB School of Management.
  • Specific criteria for faculty engagement, as well as new accountability measures.
  • The hiring of nurse practitioners and physician assistants by partner hospitals.
  • Enhancement of simulation and interdisciplinary skills training.

Cain emphasized that UB’s 60 residency programs are among many components in the school that are being transformed by new leadership at UB and new chairs in the medical school. Since Cain’s arrival in late 2006, the UB medical school has appointed 11 new department chairs. Two additional department chair searches are underway.

UB’s reconfigured dermatology residency program also was accredited, effective as of July 2013. Dermatology residents will begin training in July.