The ACGME has developed a process to allow accredited programs to request Program Emergency Categorization when planned resident/fellow experiences are disrupted due to a local epidemic/pandemic surge. Program Emergency Categorization status can only be requested after a program, in collaboration with its clinical leadership, has first exhausted all other actual and potential sources of clinical support and when disrupting the GME experience to meet patient care needs is a last resort.
The new program-level designation resembles the existing Sponsoring Institution Emergency Categorization request process. In all cases, Sponsoring Institutions and programs must ensure that residents and fellows can successfully complete their programs and become eligible for board certification.
The process is now available, and program directors, with approval of their DIO, can initiate requests in the Accreditation Data System (ADS). The DIO, in collaboration with the Graduate Medical Education Committee and clinical leaders, must provide oversight and support for the program(s) responding to emergency conditions, particularly in considering all other potential sources of clinical support, to ensure timely completion of the curriculum for each resident/fellow. Program Emergency Categorization can be requested in 30-day increments for up to 90 days in a given academic year (July 01-June 30). The Program Emergency Categorization request can be applied retroactively up to 30 days. COVID-19 is the default type for requests, although other types may be added later.
Of special note, the ACGME will allow programs experiencing significant RSV/flu/COVID-19 surges to request Program Emergency Categorization.
Programs with Program Emergency Categorization will have temporary relief from Program Requirements except for those pertaining to: patient and resident/fellow safety (including access to COVID-19 testing); clinical and educational work hour requirements; adequate resources for education/training; adequate supervision; and fellows functioning in their core (primary) specialty (not applicable to residency programs). Additionally, program accreditation/recognition site visit postponements can be requested.