April 21, 2021

My Conference Experience: Q and A with Nick Yaghmour, MPP

Nick Yaghmour, MPP

Nick Yaghmour is the Associate Director for Well-Being and Milestones Research at the ACGME. He’s been with the ACGME for eight years, and has been involved with the conference for seven of those years, presenting on research, assessment, and well-being topics. We asked him about his experience with the conference, his role, and what else he’s working on.


ACGME: What’s was your role at this year’s conference?

Yaghmour: Dr. Lauren Poulin, Dr. Bill Iobst, and I presented a pre-recorded workshop on performing a type of programmatic self-evaluation of the assessment, Clinical Competency Committee, and feedback processes. We provided a rubric for programs to determine how they were doing in terms of the levels of efficiency for these processes, building and maintaining faculty and learner engagement, and fostering the professional development of residents and fellows.

ACGME: When do you begin preparing for the Annual Educational Conference?

Yaghmour: We found out that the workshop proposal was accepted in August of 2020. We then began having weekly meetings to put together content within a structure that would be useful for a diverse audience that we thought might include coordinators, as well as faculty members and program leadership. There were a lot of hours put into the 60-minute workshop last year, but it was absolutely worth it.

ACGME: What’s the hardest part of your job?

Yaghmour: As a presenter recording the session ahead of time, we weren’t sure whether people would attend the virtual session and how they would interact with the content. As a researcher, I’m always trying to translate the data collected into a form that is usable to programs and residents/fellows.

ACGME: What’s the best and most rewarding part of your job?

Yaghmour: The process of taking raw data, analyzing it, and putting it into context is challenging, but when you find out that the products are useful to people in medical education, it is greatly rewarding. Having a manuscript read and cited and sometimes referred to in other presentations is very meaningful.

ACGME: Can you share a little about how the experience was for you with an entirely virtual conference?

Yaghmour: The experience was different from normal in that you miss out on some of the incidental conversations and follow-up conversations. Some of the best discussions happen when a group of people have stuck around after a presentation to ask the speakers their perspective on something. What I did really like is how accessible the conference was to a broader audience. I think there were many more people that attended virtually because they didn’t have to take time off or pay for travel and lodging. I think also the virtual platform has allowed people to access some presentations they may not have been able to attend and they have the opportunity to interact with more content and ideas.

ACGME: Is there anything you already know you would like to add or change for next year? How will that depend on the conference being in person versus virtual versus a hybrid of the two?

Yaghmour: I think if we have the technological ability to do it, we could make more of the presentations in real time. Especially when you are trying to have the audience engage in an activity or small group discussion, the live back-and-forth can be really exciting. I think a hybrid model could have the best of both worlds, so to speak, where in-person attendees have the opportunity to engage in the material and discuss and network, while virtual attendees still have the opportunity to benefit from that discussion. What would be particularly helpful is if the speakers make themselves available to virtual attendees for a short window following the session.

ACGME: So what do you do after the conference is over?

Yaghmour: We received a lot of positive feedback for our presentation, so our department is working on translating the content into a tool that programs can use to improve their Milestones processes. I think the back-and-forth emails with attendees and even some GME folks who weren’t able to attend but heard about the presentation has been a lot of fun and really brings up how engaged the medical education community is when it comes to the professional development of residents.