Honoring Excellence: Q and A with Kristen Estrada, C-TAGME

January 23, 2024
2024 ACGME Debra L. Dooley GME Program Coordinator Excellence Awardee Kristen Estrada, C-TAGME.

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 Debra L. Dooley GME Program Coordinator Awardee Kristen Estrada is the program manager of family medicine at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas.

ACGME: How did you become involved in academic medicine?

Estrada: I was working within the family medicine clinic making clinic schedules and helping with the flow of the clinic. The vice chair, who was also the program director at the time, asked me to join the residency team. So in 2007, I became the residency coordinator. I had my first site visit in 2008, and it’s been my home since.

ACGME: What does this award mean to you?

Estrada: This means so much to me that my program director took the time to acknowledge a coordinator’s job duties and responsibilities. My current program director was a resident in our program and so she knows all the things I do for the residents. My heart is filled with gratitude for her.

ACGME: What is the most rewarding part of being a coordinator?

Estrada: I like when I have the opportunity to use my problem-solving skills to address resident issues and ensure a smooth operation of the residency program. I enjoy building positive relationships and fostering a sense of community within the residency program, which is a fulfilling part of my job.

ACGME: What is the most challenging part of being a coordinator?

Estrada: COVID-19 was the most challenging part of being a coordinator for me. I was managing the day-to-day schedule changes and onboarding of new residents, as well as the other normal duties, all while being down an assistant coordinator. I was on my own juggling my normal duties and supporting 27 residents and a sports medicine fellowship. Finally, after six months, I was blessed with the best assistant coordinator/sports medicine fellowship coordinator.

ACGME: What advice do you have to brand-new coordinators who are just starting their careers?

Estrada: My advice for new coordinators would be to read your specialty-specific ACGME Program Requirements so you have a solid understanding and can build structure from there. Ask questions! No question is a dumb one. Make yourself a year-to-year calendar of things you need to complete for the residency, so you have a way to check off and balance out your duties. I work six to 12 months ahead and it saves me a lot of time working in this manner.

Learn more about the ACGME’s Debra L. Dooley GME Program Coordinator Excellence Award and nominate a deserving program 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.