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, taking place March 7-9, 2024, in Orlando, Florida.
Dr. Linda R. Archer is the recipient of the 2024 John C. Gienapp Award for dedication to GME through outstanding contributions to the enhancement of residency education and ACGME accreditation activities. She is a professor of family and community medicine and serves as the GME Ombudsperson at Eastern Virginia Medical School, where she has held a variety of leadership positions, most notably serving as designated institutional official for 26 years. Dr. Archer described the most important lesson in leadership that has carried her through her exceptional years of service in GME.
ACGME: After 40 years in academic medicine, most spent in a leadership role with so many accomplishments for which you have been recognized, can you think of a leadership lesson for which you are especially grateful that has helped you to face both the challenges and the rewards of such a distinguished career?
Dr. Archer: I believe that mentorship is an absolute requirement in the development of leadership qualities; as mentors/leaders we must live our leadership philosophy. My first boss, Dr. Emanuel Stein was a such a mentor. He taught me to be mindful of processes, to think outside the “box”, and to be of service to the program directors, residents/fellows, and coordinators with whom we worked. His most memorable lesson was on addressing errors. As I was a new Ph.D. and had not worked in medical education, there were many errors in my first six months. Dr. Stein never admonished me but rather asked three questions: “How do we fix the situation?” “What have you learned from the process?” and “How will we keep this from happening again?” This philosophy has been a major feature of my leadership style and a major factor in my success.
A second requirement for successful leadership in GME is a focus on service to the program directors, the residents/fellows, and the program coordinators. The mission of the GME Office was to ensure support and resources were available to facilitate the programs becoming the best they could be, to assist in identification of methods to meet ACGME requirements, and to advocate for GME within Eastern Virginia Medical School and our affiliated teaching hospitals. Program directors were never alone in addressing challenges or in celebrating accomplishments.
Successful leaders rarely accomplish goals and objectives without a strong and committed team. Leaders must encourage and support growth and development in staff members. I expected GME Office staff members, both professional and administrative, to contribute ideas for enhancing the GME enterprise. Their opinions mattered and were considered. This allowed them to “own” the successes and help consider how to improve the not-so-successful ventures.
ACGME: Can you count how many times you have attended the ACGME Annual Educational Conference? What is the most meaningful part of the conference for you?
Archer: Since my engagement in GME, I have attended every ACGME Annual Educational Conference. I found the sessions to be thought provoking and the networking opportunities abundant. Just being with others who have similar experiences, challenges, and opportunities justified the investment of time and resources to attend the conference.
Learn more about the ACGME’s John C. Gienapp Award and nominate a deserving GME leader 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.