AAFP Responds to Proposed Shifts in Family Medicine Residency Requirements

Academy Reiterates Family Medicine's Commitment to Women's Health

May 07, 2013 05:00 pm News Staff

The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) requires all medical specialties to review and revise their residency program requirements on a regular basis. This year, however, the ACGME is implementing a new system dubbed the Next Accreditation System, which has drawn fire from the AAFP regarding women's reproductive health curriculum changes it would impose on family medicine.

[Two medical residents at table with mentor]

According to AAFP Medical Education Division Director Stanley Kozakowski, M.D., "There was a goal to simplify many of the current prescriptive requirements across the breadth of family medicine to allow for greater innovation on the part of residency programs."

Program updates and revisions currently being written, revised and considered by review committees for all the medical specialties will, after being accepted, become the yardstick by which programs will be measured for the next decade, leading Kozakowski, on behalf of the AAFP Commission on Education (COE), to submit comments to the ACGME and the Review Committee for Family Medicine (RC-FM).

In an April 22 letter to ACGME Executive Director Eileen Anthony, Kozakowski said he was providing information to the ACGME and the RC-FM on behalf of the organizations of academic family medicine: the Association of Departments of Family Medicine, the Association of Family Medicine Residency Directors, the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine and the AAFP's Residency Program Solutions consulting group.

The COE executive committee summarized organizational comments to provide feedback on myriad issues, including program director experience, patient encounters, care of hospitalized patients, procedural skills, core faculty definition and the board pass rate.

However, proposed curriculum changes in the area of women's reproductive health caused concern among a number of AAFP members, prompting AAFP Board Chair Glen Stream, M.D., M.B.I., of Spokane, Wash., to send an April 26 letter to RC-FM Chair Peter Carek, M.D., that made the AAFP's position crystal clear.

"We would like to communicate directly to the Review Committee for Family Medicine (the) concerns expressed by our membership regarding the removal -- from the draft Program Requirements for Residency Education in Family Medicine -- (of) the specific references to curriculum in family planning and reproductive decision-making," said Stream.

"The AAFP wants the RC-FM to understand clearly that we remain firm in our policy commitment to women's health and contraception as essential components for the family physician's scope of practice," said Stream.

Furthermore, "It is our expectation that as the new program requirements are implemented -- for those residency-sponsoring institutions lacking the resources or inclination to support individual curricular elements -- that they continue to be held accountable to provide all required components by using external resources and partners as needed."

Stream said the AAFP expected the RC-FM to enforce that requirement as it had done in the past.

The proposed changes to the program requirements for family medicine will be finalized in the fall and published late in 2013. The new requirements go into effect in July 2014.