MU's internal medicine residency program makes changes after May probation

Thursday, September 30, 2010 | 9:36 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Looking to lift a yearlong probation, MU’s internal medicine residency program is beefing up staff numbers and tightening regulations on scheduled shifts.

After a review in May, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education deemed that the program did not meet national requirements.

The internal medicine program was one of 55 in the country to fall short of ACGME standards. The council currently reviews 8,856 programs.

Richard Gleba, director of communication and innovation at the School of Medicine, said the primary reason for the probation was "duty hour concerns."

“Residents are required to have 10 hours off in between shifts,” Gleba said, giving an example. “That wasn’t happening all the time.”

Gleba went on to explain how a discrepancy between patient obligations and ACGME standards accounted for some of the program’s shortcomings. 

“We’re adjusting to an increased volume of patients,” Gleba said. “It can be difficult for a resident to simply leave a patient right when the shift ends.”

Gleba said program director Caroline Kerber has begun instating changes to the program such as hiring new physician assistants and nurse practitioners and readjusting the residents’s hours on the clock.

Accreditation is necessary for residency programs to be eligible to get federal graduate medical education funding. Residents need to complete an accredited program to become board certified.

Although ACGME cannot discuss the specific reasons for probations, Manager of Communications Julie Jacob said residency programs on probation can request an appointment for a re-evaluation at any point before the year is up.

However, with new ACGME standards surfacing this week and further anticipated hiring, Gleba says the program is fine waiting it out until May 2011 to ensure everything is in order.

“We have 1,400 applications for 15 new residency slots opening in July,” Gleba said, noting that the application numbers are on par with previous years. “We fully expect to have the probation lifted in May.”

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