This interview is one in a series of interviews with recipients of the 2024 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 March 7-9 in Orlando, Florida.
2024 GME Institutional Coordinator Excellence Awardee Donna Guidroz is the director, graduate medical education at the Ochsner Clinic Foundation in New Orleans, Louisiana.
ACGME: How did you become involved in academic medicine?
Guidroz: My career in GME started in 1998 when I joined Ochsner GME as a coordinator. I was seeking a fresh career start, eager to explore new opportunities. Admittedly, my knowledge about GME at the time was limited, but with a sense of curiosity, I decided to embrace the opportunity. It didn’t take very long, and I quickly realized I had a passion for the field of education and GME. Looking back, I am grateful for this decision, which has led to a very rewarding experience and career journey.
ACGME: What does this award mean to you?
Guidroz: I am truly honored to not only be nominated for this prestigious award, but also to have the privilege of being selected. It has been and continues to be very exciting and humbling. The excitement and gratitude I feel are immeasurable, as I reflect on the recognition and accolades received.
ACGME: What is the most rewarding part of being a coordinator?
Guidroz: Serving as Ochsner’s institutional coordinator since 2012 has afforded me the opportunity to grow and learn GME over the many years all the while working alongside an amazing designated institutional official who provided mentorship and inspiration helping to guide me throughout my career. Now entering the 26th year of my GME career journey, most recently in the role as GME director, I look back on a host of accreditation changes and process improvements contributing to GME standards and practices. However, the most meaningful aspects of my time as coordinator are the many accomplishments shared across Ochsner GME. Being a major part of these achievements has been gratifying and fulfilling.
ACGME: What is the most challenging part of being a coordinator?
Guidroz: Remaining focused and staying current with the ever-evolving Institutional and specialty-specific Program Requirements. While not necessarily challenges, these changes have provided me a unique perspective, allowing me to navigate through the many ACGME changes as developed.
ACGME: What advice do you have to brand-new coordinators who are just starting their careers?
Guidroz: The best advice for any new GME team member is to give yourself grace. GME is a unique realm, operating under multiple accreditation guidelines as well as program-specific board eligibility rules. It’s important for anyone considering GME as a career to know this is not a position you will master overnight. Embracing the complexities of GME requires time, patience, and a commitment to continuous learning. Lastly, building a strong dyad relationship with program directors is essential for success. Fostering open communication, the entire team – administrators, program directors, and house staff benefit.
ACGME: Is there anything else you would like to add I haven’t asked about?
Guidroz: Since beginning my GME career journey over 25 years ago, I can attest to the myriad changes in accreditation that have shaped this dynamic field. Yes, there have been numerous challenges and yes, the occasional “fire to put out.” However, reflecting on this journey, I can confidently affirm that it has been nothing short of an amazing career—one that I would willingly choose again.
Learn more about the ACGME’s GME Institutional Coordinator Excellence Award and nominate a deserving institutional coordinator for the 2025 Award – nominations are due by March 27, 2024. Registration is still open for the 2024 ACGME Annual Educational Conference – learn more and register today on the conference website.