Honoring Excellence: Q and A with Thomas R. Greenwood, DO

This interview is one in a series of interviews with recipients of the 2021 ACGME Awards. The awardees join an outstanding group of previous honorees whose work and contributions to graduate medical education (GME) represent the best in the field. They will be honored at the ACGME Annual Educational Conference, taking place virtually February 24-26, 2021.

2021 David C. Leach Awardee Thomas R. Greenwood, DO is the project lead for the family medicine department at Central Washington Family Medicine.

ACGME: Why did you want to become a physician?

Greenwood: I wanted to be able to make a difference in people's lives while also being challenged to learn new things every day.

ACGME: What, so far, has been the most rewarding part of your residency?

Greenwood: Working with underserved patient populations, particularly Spanish speaking.

ACGME: What has been the most challenging?

Greenwood: COVID-19 hands down. With respect to this project, I'd say that onboarding and orienting all of the stakeholders within our organization (billing, care coordination team, residents, attendings, etc.) were the biggest challenges. Everyone comes to the table with different levels of computer proficiency, and it's important to make new processes accessible to everyone.

ACGME: What innovation/improvement did you implement in your program?

Greenwood: Replacing our outdated and glitchy patient sign-out system with something simple, concise and easy to use: Physician Sign Out (PSO). Not only did we need a means for safe and efficient patient sign-outs between shifts in the hospital, our attendings needed an integrated means to track billing for patients. I worked directly with Tim at PSO to sort out issues related to our initial rollout of their software, including being a beta tester for their billing feature. I trained fellow residents, attendings, and our billing department on how to use PSO. I actively sought feedback from everyone on how to improve workflows and functionality for all users. It was a team effort, and none of this would have been possible without my chief resident Josh Johnson, DO. Having trialed several sign-out programs, including PSO, Josh was the catalyst for this project, and he was an integral part of implementation and maintenance phase along the way.

ACGME: What does it mean to you to receive this award?

Greenwood: Humbling and unreal. I had no idea that I had been nominated for this award. My goal was to reduce resident frustration with data entry and improve patient care through a better patient sign-out system. As someone who had spent nearly a decade as a handyman prior to medical school, when something is broken, I can't help but want to fix it. It is truly humbling to be honored for this tendency.

ACGME: What advice would you give to other residents/fellows who are looking to either replicate your improvement or implement an original idea of their own in their own program?

Greenwood: Collaborate! Very few successes can be achieved without the help of others. Seek out those who also want to make a difference. Stay curious! Many challenges that we face are often more complex than we initially realize. When we take the time to dig deeper and approach things from different angles, we may be better prepared to find a solution.