The Council of Emergency Medicine Residency Directors (CORD), in partnership with the Residency Review Committee for Emergency Medicine (RRC-EM), requested that a panel of CORD members lead a workgroup on Conference Alternatives at the Best Practices track of the 2008 CORD Academic Assembly. Following an information session wherein current requirements were reviewed, a subsequent breakout session ensued, and participants examined existing conference requirements and recommended revisions, as appropriate. The workgroup also sought to identify best practices pertaining to didactic education.
The program requirements for emergency medicine (EM) stipulate that programs must:
- 1) offer residents an average of at least 5 hours/week of planned educational experiences developed by the EM training program;
- 2) ensure that residents are relieved of their clinical duties to attend these planned experiences. The program should ensure that residents attend on average 70% of the offerings.1
Accredited, allopathic EM training programs vary in length from 3 to 4 years. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) Program Requirements for EM training programs do not vary according to type of program (3- vs. 4-year).
The Program Requirements further elaborate that alternative methods of education, such as interactive teleconferencing, would be considered with “appropriate educational justification,” but does not define what that entails.1 When questioned regarding acceptable alternatives, members of the RRC-EM emphasized the importance of learner and teacher interaction in said didactic offerings and cited dual goals of optimizing education and protecting the educational mission. Similarly, the 5 hour/week and 70% attendance rules were derived in the early era of EM training as a means of protecting the educational mission of the new training programs.2
As Phase 3 of the ACGME Outcome Project3 has taken hold, educators have become increasingly familiar with and accountable to educational outcomes. As such, programs have been evolving away from process-related requirements toward attestation of learner and programmatic outcomes. Proof of teaching no longer suffices. Programs now must measure learning.
Additionally, just as the educational expectations have advanced, so too have educational technologies. As educators began to see the potential of new educational adjuncts in the context of the new outcomes era, some began questioning existing EM program requirements pertaining to conference. The final section of the EM program requirements invites programs to experiment and innovate collaboratively with the RRC-EM. These converging opportunities for simultaneous reexamination of current requirements and innovation led to the development of the workgroup.