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 Debra L. Dooley GME Program Coordinator Excellence Awardee Adam Finney is a program coordinator for child neurology and pediatric epilepsy at the University of Colorado.
ACGME: How did you become involved in academic medicine?
Finney: I’ve been involved in academic medicine since I met my wife many years ago. I was a graduate student and she was a first-year medical student. I had the opportunity to see the life of a medical student and then a resident. Through this experience I learned how much impact a coordinator has on the resident experience. After she completed residency I starting looking to get into academic medicine. I knew that my experience in student affairs would transfer well and I could impact the lives of future physicians. I was fortunate to be given an opportunity with child neurology and it has been a very rewarding experience.
ACGME: What does this award mean to you?
Finney: This award is a tremendous honor. I know that there are many really hard-working coordinators across the country. To receive this award and have the opportunity to represent my University and group of coordinators who have helped to shape me over the years is very humbling. I know there are so many who are deserving.
ACGME: What is the most rewarding part of being a coordinator?
Finney: I truly enjoy watching the growth of the residents. It is so much fun every year at graduation to think back to when they interviewed or when they were first-year residents and recount their transformation. It is enjoyable to see the future success in their careers. I truly enjoy the community of coordinators, both locally and nationally, that I’ve had the opportunity to join.
ACGME: What is the most challenging part of being a coordinator?
Finney: The most challenging part of being a coordinator is balancing change and consistency. There is always something changing, and it is difficult to keep up with all the changes while simultaneously keeping a level of consistency for those items that remain unchanged.
ACGME: What advice do you have to brand-new coordinators who are just starting their careers?
Finney: Be patient with the learning curve. Due to the cyclical nature of the job, it takes two to three years to really get a good grasp on the position. I recommend staying in one position for a minimum of the length of the education program. I highly encourage everyone to recruit a class and be able to watch them graduate. If you stay with the position longer, it only gets better. It is fun to work with former residents as they grow and become faculty members.
Don’t reinvent the wheel. I would encourage every coordinator to get to know some other coordinators on campus well and also make connections with coordinators at other campuses. Ask for help. No matter how long you have been a coordinator you can learn something from another coordinator. Never stop asking questions
ACGME: Is there anything else you would like to add I haven’t asked about?
Finney: The program coordinator role has evolved drastically since 2002. The number of skills and amount of knowledge we are asked to know continues to expand. I look forward to watching the continued development of the role.