Nearly three years ago, Jeet Pillay, MD, became the program director for the osteopathic internal medicine residency program at Detroit Medical Center’s Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital in Commerce Township, Michigan. Preparing for the impending transition to a single system of graduate medical education accreditation, he immediately began taking steps to enhance osteopathic training for program residents.
“We wanted to do everything we could to maintain the identity and the philosophies that our residents had been taught,” he said, noting that he set up workshops for residents with faculty members from the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine in East Lansing and added a section for osteopathic manipulative treatment to the residents’ progress note template.
In September, the 15-resident program obtained initial accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), which means that the program is now a combined program. This year, the program is participating in both the DO and MD matches. Dr. Pillay says he wants the best candidates for his program and predicts that the residency will continue to be DO-heavy.
“The DO residents we’ve had in the past displayed a strong work ethic and a very proactive attitude that’s manifested in them becoming excellent physicians. And we have a high retention rate of people staying in the community,” he says.
The residency program is also planning to apply for osteopathic recognition from the ACGME this month, Dr. Pillay says.
An arduous but rewarding process
Although he says applying for ACGME accreditation was a time-consuming process, Dr. Pillay says the hard work was definitely worthwhile.
“The application helped us update every aspect of the program. And right away, people noticed,” he says, noting a tenfold increase in the number of applications in the months following the program’s status change to initial accreditation.
Another major advantage to obtaining ACGME accreditation is that this year, with access to both matches, the residency program has a wider pool of DO candidates to choose from.
“The quality of our residents has been improving on an annual basis in this program,” says Bruce Wolf, DO, the director of medical education for osteopathic residency programs at Detroit Medical Center. “This just ensures that we will continue to see high-quality candidates.”
In advising directors of residency programs on applying for ACGME accreditation, Dr. Pillay stresses the importance of taking a meticulous, careful approach to the application.
“The standards are quite high, and the site visitor we had was very thorough,” he says, adding that programs should reach out to their Osteopathic Postdoctoral Training Institution for help if needed, as well as the executive director of their review committee.
Program directors should take extra care to make sure applications are fully completed before submitting. To help complete this task, the ACGME has posted an application guide, intended to serve as a working document to help ensure program directors and directors of medical education gather all necessary information before beginning the application process.
According to review committee recommendations, there is no advantage to submitting an incomplete application to achieve “pre-accreditation” status.
“You want to make a good first impression on the residency review committee,” Dr. Pillay says. “You want to tout your program’s positives: What you’ve been doing with the residents, how the residents have been representing the program, and the graduation rate.”