ACTION REQUIRED: ACGME Wants to Eliminate Contraceptive Training for Family Physicians?
That is why we are dismayed that the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) has proposed changes to the guidelines for family medicine residency programs removing the requirement that residents learn to provide contraception. These changes will go into effect in 2014 unless the ACGME is convinced otherwise, during an open comment period taking place this week.
A majority of U.S. women get their basic health care from a family physician or other primary care provider, and often that includes reproductive health care. Especially in rural and low-income areas, family physicians do it all! They not only provide birth control but also provide prenatal care, deliver babies, manage miscarriages, counsel patients about unintended pregnancies, and, increasingly, offer pregnancy termination so that their patients do not have to travel long distances and see unfamiliar doctors for these services.
ACGME’s motivations are legitimate: It seeks to simplify the rules for the nation’s family medicine residency programs—numbering over 450—and to allow for more creativity and flexibility. In some areas of practice, this makes sense. Many programs will continue to teach contraception; it will depend on the culture of the institution. However, residency programs based in religiously-affiliated hospitals (which operate nearly 20 percent of inpatient community-hospital beds in the U.S.), will most likely drop birth control training immediately.
There is time to make a difference. The ACGME is accepting comments on the proposed guidelines until April 25, 2013. Click here to download our suggested version of the official comment form. Fill in your information and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Reproductive Health Access Project has an online campaign for all of us to tell the ACGME that their changes affect our health care.