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 were honored at the ACGME Annual Educational Conference, which took place virtually February 24-26, 2021.
2021 GME Institutional Coordinator Excellence Awardee Lowell Virginia (Jennie) Craft, MPPM, C-TAGME is the director, GME Office at the University of Alabama (UAB) Hospital – Birmingham.
ACGME: How did you become involved in academic medicine?
Craft: I started in academic medicine by being selected as the first director in my Sponsoring Institution's GME Office. When I saw the open position and read the job description, I thought GME was something I would be interested in trying. So, I stumbled into this wonderful role that I have enjoyed for 16 years now.
ACGME: What does this award mean to you?
Craft: This award means a great deal to me and I am humbled by the support from my institution in nominating me. Any success I have enjoyed in GME is due to my many mentors and supporters in our institution that have freely shared their knowledge with me over the years.
ACGME: What is the most rewarding part of being a coordinator?
Craft: Working with a variety of engaged individuals. You get a chance to constantly learn in GME, as requirements and processes change. I enjoy working with a wide range of individuals (designated institutional officials (DIOs), GME staff members, program directors, program coordinators, residents, and fellows) and sharing my GME Office knowledge. Hopefully that makes their job a little easier.
ACGME: What is the most challenging part of being a coordinator?
Craft: Time. In the GME Office, you work closely with the DIO and GME staff, and have a chance to participate in designing institutional processes and improvements. There are so many good ideas generated from our group—but just not always enough time to get them all completed.
ACGME: What advice do you have to brand-new coordinators who are just starting their careers?
Craft: You have chosen a terrific profession. Accept that you have a lot to learn, but you can do it. Reach out to the larger GME community—both at your institution and beyond. You will find a supportive group of individuals willing to share their knowledge so that you can succeed. We all remember our first day in GME!
ACGME: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Craft: I am a medical technologist and I worked in the UAB Hospital Laboratory before moving to the GME Office. Even though I knew very little about GME, my laboratory experience in accreditation activities definitely helped me. One of my mentors in the pathology department (Dr. Bruce Alexander), advised me to begin with learning the ACGME Requirements and "let them guide you." He was right.