Resident Empowerment as a Driving Theme of Graduate Medical Education Reform

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Through a series of six recent conferences, the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation wanted to try to change the discussion about graduate medical education (GME) reform to one that is about the innovations needed to better prepare residents for the changing world of practice they will be entering and for meeting the needs of the patient population they will serve. These conferences featured some of the encouraging innovations in GME that are occurring at local and regional levels. An ongoing theme from many of these reforms is the empowerment of residents. The author examines what it would mean for health care systems, residency programs, and residents themselves to pursue empowerment for this significant portion of the health care workforce. Residents should be seen as a valuable component of the health care workforce with the ability to contribute to institutional and societal goals. The author highlights examples of existing programs that use residents in this way, but to accomplish this more broadly will require culture change and greater flexibility on the part of GME and institutional leadership.

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