By Amy E. Hamaker
The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) recently honored two individuals at the Keck School of Medicine of USC for their dedication to advancing the quality of USC’s resident physician education. The Keck School of Medicine provides rigorous training for medical residents to help prepare them for board certification and medical practice.
Lawrence M. Opas, associate dean and director of the office of graduate medical education, received one of three 2012 Parker J. Palmer Courage to Lead Awards. The award honors outstanding designated institutional officials, who are in charge of all residency programs at sponsoring institutions.
Nancy Curtiss, student programs advisor with the Department of Anesthesiology, won one of five 2012 Graduate Medical Education Program Coordinator Excellence Awards.
“The Keck School of Medicine of USC’s comprehensive medical residency program is thriving thanks to the hard work and dedication of our faculty and staff,” said Keck School Dean Carmen A. Puliafito. “Congratulations to both Dr. Opas and Nancy Curtiss on these well-deserved honors. I know that they will continue to provide an outstanding experience for our residents.”
The Courage to Lead Award that Opas received acknowledges the leadership and commitment of officials who foster an excellent environment for resident education. This includes encouraging program directors, improving performance and innovation among faculty and students, using resources strategically, showing strong leadership through core values and principles, and using reflection as an integral part of the education improvement process.
“For more than a decade, Dr. Opas has provided oversight for 52 fully accredited training programs with a mean accreditation cycle of 4.7 years,” said D. Brent Polk, the Keck School’s vice dean for clinical affairs (Children’s Hospital Los Angeles) and Children’s Hospital’s vice president for academic affairs, in a congratulatory letter. “Furthermore, under Dr. Opas’ leadership, the LAC+USC Medical Center achieved a five-year accreditation cycle.”
Curtiss was nominated by the Keck School graduating class of 2011, and recommended by program residents and by Opas. Program coordinators like Curtiss hold pivotal roles in the functioning of medical education programs, and award nominees must show excellent communication and interpersonal skills, enhance and improve the program, thoroughly understand the accreditation process, and actively participate at a national level in program coordinators’ associations or other national meetings.
“We should feel fortunate to be working with Nancy, who deserves this recognition,” noted Rajesh Patel, residency program director for the Department of Anesthesiology.
ACGME is a private, nonprofit council that evaluates and accredits residency programs in the United States. Its mission is to improve health care by assessing and advancing the quality of resident physicians’ education. The awards were presented March 2 at the organization’s 2012 Annual Educational Conference in Orlando, Fla.