Best Practices for the ACGME Resident and Faculty Surveys
Author: Madelynn Ahlborn, MPH
These surveys are extremely important for programs and institutions to maintain positive accreditation results, identify potential concerns, and monitor clinical learning environments. The ACGME provides a variety of resources to programs and institutions in preparation for the survey found here, which include a guide to the content within the surveys for faculty and residents, frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding the survey and its administration, insights on how to access the survey, and information on where the survey areas relate to the common program requirements.
To help programs and institutions prepare for these surveys, Germane Solutions has outlined best practice recommendations to consider as you prepare your residents and faculty to complete the surveys.
- Do not “coach” your residents and faculty before the survey. It is important you work within your program to ensure residents and faculty understand the key areas of the survey (i.e. clarifying specific definitions/confusing terms, grade scales, bias awareness, etc.,). Providing residents and faculty with a development session on these areas and what to expect within the survey can be an excellent way to support them through this process. This ensures they have all the necessary tools to fully understand and complete the survey honestly and accurately.
- For the ACGME Faculty Survey, for specialty programs, only core faculty as designated in ADS at the time of release are assigned to complete the survey, and for subspecialty programs, all faculty are assigned to complete the survey. This means any changes to your faculty following the release of the survey on Monday will not reflect who receives this year’s survey. Changes cannot be made to survey participants once the survey date has arrived. It is critical that programs ensure their faculty roster in ADS is accurate and appropriately designates those members of the teaching team that are faculty and intimately involved in the program to accurately complete the ACGME survey.
- Programs must provide the ACGME survey instructions to the residents and faculty. The ACGME does not contact or notify faculty or residents that the survey is available; this is the responsibility of the programs. Ensuring faculty are provided with the link to the survey following your preparation session with them is imperative for adequate completion compliance and ensures participants have enough time to complete the survey. This will be the last year this process is followed; starting in 2024, the ACGME will automatically release the surveys to participants.
- Provide residents and faculty with designated time to complete the survey. This is an additional support system that allows them to complete the survey honestly, openly, and thoughtfully. If participants do not have adequate time to prepare and complete the surveys, this can be a common driver of poor survey results.
- Only programs with active residents are assigned the surveys. If there are no residents or fellows within a program, the faculty do not have to complete the survey. Ensuring that your program meets the minimum completion rates and is eligible to receive feedback is a compliance requirement for programs currently training residents.
- Utilize your internal institutional program survey. Programs are required by the ACGME to survey faculty and residents on an annual basis regarding the quality of their programs (CPR), and copies of these evaluations are provided to the ACGME during new program applications and site visits. Modeling your institution or program survey around the ACGME survey content areas is an excellent way to identify what key areas might be of concern within an institution, and areas that may reflect poorly on the ACGME survey. This also allows institutions and programs to identify areas of concern and make progress in these areas prior to the more formal ACGME survey.
- Most importantly, once the outcomes are released, address the results and any upcoming institutional or programmatic changes with the faculty and residents. These surveys are a confidential way for faculty and residents to provide feedback on the program without fear of retaliation or harassment, and programs should take this very seriously. One of the most successful ways to improve survey results is to implement program improvement and action plans following the prior year’s survey results. The goal of these surveys is to guide program improvement and identify areas of focus. Taking action on these indicators can make a significant difference for a program’s success.