Pruett shoulders two challenging jobs, and at a time when big shifts are still under way in each area. As Geoff Broocker did earlier, Pruett simultaneously holds dual titles: director of Residency Education at Emory Eye (July 1, 2011) and chief of Ophthalmology Service at Grady Memorial Hospital (January 1, 2013), along with the innumerable administrative and teaching responsibilities that each position entails.
In both areas under Pruett’s supervision, the challenges have intensified. The current Educational Milestones Project, mandated by the ongoing overhaul in ACGME regulations, requires continual, time-consuming evaluation—supported by many-faceted documentation—of each resident’s stepwise progress through training. Meanwhile, Grady continues its equally worthwhile yet formidable EMR task: transferring all its medical records to electronic format.
Fortunately, Pruett has a strong slate of helpers. Many of our faculty members are dedicated to the teaching of residents. Trotter, as the program’s coordinator, manages its complex administrative details. At Grady, Broocker has returned in the invaluable role of consultant, managing quality control, supervising in the OR, and also doing some administrative work.
Two fellow boomerangs have stepped up to lighten Pruett’s load as well. As associate chief of service at Grady, Jeremy Jones (’04-08M; res. ’09-12; glaucoma fellowship ’12-13) splits the clinical training with Pruett and Broocker and helps with the EMR project.
Blaine Cribbs (res. ’03-06; retina fellowship ’07-09), as director of residency medical education, oversees the curriculum and scheduling of residents’ didactic training, gives several lectures a year on retina topics, and works clinically with residents at the high-volume VA Medical Center. He also plays a big role in accomplishing the required ACGME documentation.
“We have to track each specific skill, noting the level each resident has reached at each time point,” Cribbs says. “There’s much more documentation involved now than in past years, and I can see that programs with only one residency program director would be at a disadvantage. It’s a challenge for Paul and me to get feedback both from the residents and from our clinical faculty about what’s working and not working, and about ways that we can improve.”
Pruett sums up the advantages of sharing the workload: “Blaine has his fingers on the pulse of the VA, and I have my fingers on the pulse of Grady, so we know what’s going on at both sites. It’s one of the biggest changes we’ve made. We try to head off any potential problem before it can fester and grow. And at Grady, Geoff and Jeremy and I all have a vested interest in making sure things run smoothly; even though we’re never all there at the same time, we do a good job of maintaining a consistent presence.”
As the truism goes, if you want quality control, grow your own.
People have noted Pruett’s skill in communicating objectively with residents both about what they’re doing well and about what they need to improve on—an ability that Pruett attributes to having worked closely with Aaron. Cribbs, too, follows Aaron’s model: “I try to do what she does: make sure that every teaching point comes with a positive.”
Broocker’s influence is still holding strong. “My teaching style is similar to Geoff’s,” Pruett says. “Let the residents make mistakes, but make sure that those are controlled mistakes and that the residents learn from them. And like Geoff, I use a lot of self-deprecating humor, telling the residents about mistakes I’ve made, to help them loosen up and talk about their own. But I’m not nearly as funny as Geoff.”
“It’s been wonderful to know that both the program and the Grady situation are seamless from our past strengths,” Broocker comments. “More than half of our department are our former residents—a fact that contributes to our success. The most important thing to me is that we have not stumbled along the way.”
Aaron observes, “It’s great to have ‘homegrowns’ as leaders, because they know our program well. Residency programs differ. Ours is a very hands-on, active learning environment—exactly the conditions under which this generation learns best. I think that under Paul’s leadership, our program is going to be even stronger—and even more popular for medical students approaching residency.”