This interview is one in a series of interviews with recipients of the 2023 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 this week in Nashville, Tennessee, from February 23-25, 2023.
2023 Debra L. Dooley GME Program Coordinator Excellence Awardee Bethany Millar is the manager, education, for internal medicine at Washington University School of Medicine.
ACGME: How did you become involved in academic medicine?
Millar: I was not aware of the career area of academic medicine; I applied for an entry-level administrative position that happened to be in a GME program, and I fell in love with the mission. Being part of a larger vision that is constantly updating and changing and pivoting to meet the dynamic demands of health care was surprisingly exciting for me, and I appreciated the opportunities to grow in this new career in GME.
ACGME: What does this award mean to you?
Millar: I deeply appreciate the opportunity to be honored and receive recognition for the hard work and the skills I have developed over the years. Often administrators are the unsung heroes of any institution or program, and it’s meaningful that the ACGME recognizes that on a national level, and at both the institutional and program level.
ACGME: What is the most rewarding part of being a coordinator?
Millar: Being part of a larger mission of education in health care; it is always changing to meet new needs and new challenges, and while it can be demanding and difficult and exhausting, it is certainly never boring! I appreciate knowing I am influencing the future of health care through our educational programs and the work I do every day. I enjoy helping people, and this role of supporting and helping faculty members and residents do their best in their programs fills that need.
ACGME: What is the most challenging part of being a coordinator?
Millar: There is still a lack of understanding of what this role is and could be—there is no formal education, no formal certification, and many times academic graduate and undergraduate medicine coordinators are not differentiated from other types of administrators, when the role demands much more. I do see this changing and expanding, though, and it’s exciting to be a part of a new career that is still shaping itself.
ACGME: What advice do you have to brand new coordinators who are just starting their careers?
Millar: Give yourself time and lots of grace. NO ONE comes into this role knowing it all, and it takes at least a year to experience a full cycle of an educational program. It can be frustrating feeling like you are not able to master things quickly because you are constantly being faced with a “new” project, but this is the norm for academic medicine, and you are not alone in feeling that way. Take time to connect with other coordinators in your institution, your program, or nationally.
Learn more about the ACGME’s Debra L. Dooley GME Program Coordinator Excellence Award and nominate a deserving individual for the 2024 Award – nominations are due by March 15, 2023.