Honoring Excellence: Q and A with Maria DeOliveira, EdD

March 14, 2024
2024 Debra L. Dooley GME Program Coordinator Excellence Award winner Maria DeOliveira, EdD.

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 were honored at the ACGME Annual Educational Conference held March 7-9, 2024, in Orlando, Florida.

At the time of the award, Debra L. Dooley GME Program Coordinator Excellence Awardee Maria C. DeOliveira, EdD was the director of education administration in internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

ACGME: How did you become involved in academic medicine?

Dr. DeOliveira: I had been asked to step in and cover for a program manager while working as the executive assistant for the chair of medicine and program director at a community hospital. Within a short amount of time, I had been offered the position of program manager. That was the beginning of my journey in medical education. Since then, I have worked at four institutions in Boston working at the departmental and institutional levels. I had great mentors throughout this journey who motivated me and inspired me to further my own education and advance my career.

ACGME: What does this award mean to you?

DeOliveira: This award symbolizes so much for me. Firstly, Debbie Dooley is one of the first administrators that I met in medical education over 20 years ago. It is an honor to receive an award named after her and recognizing the work of administrators in medical education. Secondly, the role of program coordinators has evolved so much over the years and the fact that it is being recognized by the ACGME is truly symbolic of evolution and advancement in the field. Lastly, I would say that this award is being presented to me at a time that I am transitioning from the graduate medical education world and into a role in undergraduate medical education after completing my doctorate in education. This is not the end of my journey in medical education, it is the bridge and beginning to another aspect of my career. I am excited to see what the future holds.

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

DeOliveira: I have found my relationships with residents to be the most meaningful aspect of my career. As an administrator, I have had the opportunity to lead by example, influence change and contribute to health care delivery by overseeing my programs, collaborating with faculty and staff members, and assisting residents.

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

DeOliveira: There are many competing agendas in education programs and the administrative oversight of those programs. Regardless of program size, programmatic needs, faculty goals and resident satisfaction come into play on a day-to-day basis regardless of where we are in the academic year.There never seems to be enough time yet we seem to always get it done.

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

DeOliveira: I would advise a new coordinator to network with administrators from various programs. It is valuable to hear perspectives from different institutions and different states or regions of the country. It is also important to get advice from people at varying stages of their careers. After so many years in the field, I like to speak to those who are new at the job. They have clear eyes and see things in a very different way. That said, those with many years of experience also know things that are tried and true. I would also suggest finding a few mentors to help guide you on your journey. I feel blessed to have had great mentors throughout my career. Those mentors include physicians, administrators, and even former residents. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Learn moreabout the ACGME’s Debra L. Dooley GME Program Coordinator Excellence Award and nominate a deserving coordinator for the 2025 Award – nominations are due by March 27, 2024.