How can milestones for residency training allow customized learning and flexible timelines?

Paula Termuhlen, M.D., general surgery residency program director, Medical College of Wisconsin, says residency programs need to be reimagined in order to face the physician deficit head-on.


Some of the most innovative things that we're thinking about right now are something referred to as milestones. So in the residency world, we're being able to now identify exactly where people are along a spectrum of skills in six different areas and with the idea and vision that as people meet those skills we can move them along the pathway and again get rid of the rigid timelines that we're currently married to.

For those of us who have been doing medical education for a long time, we know some people learn faster than others, and other people learn slower. The fact that we're facing a deficit of 90,000 physicians coming up here very soon in the next decade, we really need to be thinking about: How can we turn people out more quickly? How can we ensure that we get people in the pipeline, keep them in the pipeline, and then turn them out at the end?