Back in April the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education–the organization that sets the training standards and accredits all residency training programs in the United States–updated the training standards for Family Medicine. Instead of making the training requirements in women’s health stronger, they weakened them!
Training in contraception was no longer required. In fact, family planning wasn’t even mentioned in the proposed guidelines. Training in providing pregnancy options counseling was no longer required. Training in IUD and contraceptive implant insertion (the two most effective contraceptive methods available) were still not required. This was despite strong efforts by many groups to require this training, including the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine Procedures Working Group. (You can see their training recommendations here.) Learning how to do a uterine evacuation, which can be used for miscarriage or abortion care, was still not required. Again, this is going against the recommendations of respected groups and leaders in the field.
Our contention is that if training in basic women’s health isn’t required, then it probably won’t happen–this is especially true for religiously affiliated residency programs. If no one is trained, no one has access, even if it’s legal and covered by insurance. It’s that simple.
During the open comment period, the Reproductive Health Access Project responded by organizing a campaign to let the ACGME know that this is NOT OK. We started an online petition so that people could let the ACGME know how the proposed recommendations would affect their health. We combed through the proposed training recommendations and drafted formal comments that we urged clinicians across the country to submit. We got press coverage on RH Reality Check and NPR. In all, more than 3,600 folks weighed in to the ACGME.
The ACGME heard us! They recently released the new Family Medicine Residency Training Guidelines. These new guidelines, which will go into effect July 2014, now mandate training in contraception care and options counseling.
Our campaign also asked that the new guidelines include uterine aspiration and IUD and implant insertion/removal in the list of required training procedures. They didn’t say no to that. Instead the ACGME completely removed the list of required procedures and now simply state that family physicians need to be trained in appropriate diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.
This is a win for all of us. All family physicians trained in the U.S. must receive education on contraceptive care and options counseling for unintended pregnancy, no matter where they are trained, even in a religiously affiliated institution.
Now we want to thank the ACGME for doing the right thing. We’ve drafted a sign on letter and ask you to take a minute to add your name to it. There is space for you to add your own comments too. Organizations can sign on here. We’ll be collecting signatures until November 19th.