It has finally happened–the inaugural class of ACGME-accredited Regional Anesthesiology and Acute Pain Medicine (RAAPM) fellowships has been announced, marking the beginning of a new era.
Congratulations to the following 9 programs that now are the first accredited fellowship programs representing this subspecialty in the United States:
- Stanford University
- Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
- University of California, San Francisco
- Massachusetts General Hospital
- Brigham and Women’s Hospital
- Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine
- Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai/St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital
- Duke University Hospital
- Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Accreditation is immediate and retroactive to the current 2016-17 academic year. This announcement represents a tremendous achievement in anesthesiology training and medical education in general. Nearly 4 years ago, at our spring RAAPM fellowship directors meeting in 2013, I was appointed to lead the task force that would eventually make contact with the ACGME to request consideration for accreditation of our subspecialty fellowship programs. After submitting the 161-page letter to ACGME, we waited nearly a year to receive a response, and it was positive. The next 2 years were spent drafting the program requirements that would eventually be used as the basis for fellowship design and evaluation. This was an iterative process with multiple revisions based on solicited feedback and public commentary.
When the application period opened for the first time ever in October 2016, programs interested in applying had less than 2 months to prepare their program information forms and other materials, have them reviewed and approved by their local graduate medical education offices, and submit to ACGME in time for the 2017 spring review.
These 9 accredited programs have embarked on a brave new path, but it will not be an easy one. Their programs will be reviewed periodically to evaluate adherence to the program requirements and the quality of fellowship training, and deficiencies identified will need to be resolved or face loss of accreditation. However, their commitment to maintaining accreditation represents, in my opinion, a commitment to their fellows that they will provide a training experience that can be held as a benchmark for all programs.
We need our fellowship training programs to develop leaders in regional anesthesiology and acute pain medicine who can catalyze changes in healthcare that will improve patient outcomes and experience. Today, we have taken a huge step forward.