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April 10, 2019

My Conference Experience: Q and A with Kelli Corning

Kelli Corning with family and friends after receiving the 2019 ACGME GME Coordinator Excellence Award at the Annual Educational Conference

Kelli Corning is the Associate Director of the University of Washington’s internal medicine residency program. She has been actively involved in program coordinator activities throughout her career in GME and participated in the full Annual Educational Conference, and also presented at the pre-conference Coordinator Forum. Additionally, this year Ms. Corning was a recipient of the ACGME’s GME Program Coordinator Excellence Award, which she received at the conference. The award itself was also renamed at this year’s conference for Ms. Corning’s close friend and colleage Debra L. Dooley, who recently retired from her role as the ACGME’s Director of Educational Activities. We spoke with Ms. Corning about her experience this year.

Q: How long have you been attending the ACGME Annual Educational Conference?

A: My first ACGME conference was in 2000.

Q: Talk a little about the Coordinator Forum – why is it important to you to participate? What do you enjoy about it?

A: The ACGME Coordinator Forum is a great opportunity to hear what other programs are doing, generate ideas for our own program, and recharge our professional batteries with others who are committed to graduate medical education. Nowhere else do coordinators from all specialties gather to share innovations, learn from each other, and build a professional network.

Q: What do you most like about presenting?

A: I love being able to share my passion for GME with others. I have the best job in the world, training the leaders and physicians of the future. It’s easy to be lost in the weeds of our day-to-day tasks, but when we stop and remember that our job is to teach early-career physicians how to be business professionals, and that we have jobs because we have trainees, how can we not be excited to come to work every day?!?

Q: What’s the hardest part?

A: For me, the hardest part of presenting is making sure I know what I’m trying to accomplish before I start thinking about what to share. Some of the questions I ask myself: Who is the audience? What do they need? If I were in their chairs, what would I want to learn? What have I been asked to share? What do I want to share? What’s the one thing I want someone to walk away with?

Q: What’s the best/most rewarding part?

A: When someone walks out of the room, empowered to make a difference in the lives of his/her trainees, I know it was a good presentation. When I walk out of the room with new ideas that I gleaned from the audience, it’s been a great presentation!

Q: What do you most look forward to at the conference?

A: The Annual Educational Conference is a time to reconnect with colleagues from across the country. It is a time to hear from Dr. Nasca and the other plenary speakers about the vision of GME and direction of medicine/training in our country. It’s an opportunity to be inspired!

Q: What’s an average day like for you at the conference?

A: Being a west coast native, when the Annual Educational Conference is on the east coast, it’s a very early morning the first couple of days. A 7:30 a.m. start equates to a 3:30 a.m. wake-up call, which is often met with a mumble, a grumble, and a shuffle to the shower. However, once in the groove of things, it’s full steam ahead. I’m excited to hear all the plenary sessions, pick workshops that meet a need in my own program, and visit with friends new and old at the receptions. Dinner in the evening is typically a group affair, the more the merrier and since it only feels like 7:00 p.m. when the clock strikes 10, it’s early to bed!

Q: What do you hope attendees took away from your presentations?

A: This year I presented with Dr. Casanova on CLER site visits for program coordinators. Our goal was to make it clear that while a program coordinator is likely not be directly involved with the site visitors, each of us has a role in creating the clinical learning environment, and we all have a responsibility in quality education and safety!

Q: This year you came to the conference as an attendee, a presenter, and an award winner. Can you talk a little about the recognition and what it means to you, and maybe how that changed your conference experience?

A: I am honored to receive the GME Program Coordinator Excellence award. It was an emotional experience reading the nomination letter that my residents wrote. Receiving the letter was a highlight in my career, and more than gift enough. However, to also be recognized by the ACGME for the work that I do was humbling and a defining event for my career. The Awards Reception and Awards Luncheon provided me the opportunity to connect with other leaders who are committed to education. I got to meet new colleagues, reinforce friendships with old colleagues, and share a bit of my professional world with my husband and daughter. Maybe now they won’t tell folks that I’m a scout leader for a bunch of young doctors… okay, they probably still will, and that’s okay.

Q: Anything else you’d like to add about your experience?

A: Being able to share this year’s Annual Educational Conference with [the ACGME’s] Deb Dooley, my dear friend, mentor, and champion, was truly special. Deb has impacted my life in so many ways, and to receive recognition that will carry her name for future awardees, made this year even more special.

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