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Training coordinators help keep the educational mission moving

Stacy Buckley, Tammy Bosshard and Charlotte Iannaci help keep the department's training programs running smoothly.

Image of a desk with a computer, clipboard, plant and cup with pens and pencils.

For more than two decades, Stacy Buckley has served as one of three training coordinators in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Kansas Medical Center. It's a demanding position and getting it all done is a constant challenge for her. Yet it's still more a labor of love rather than just labor.

"I think it is incredible that after so many years, I still enjoy the work that I do," she said. "I am very blessed to have worked with two amazing program directors and such talented residents."

The training programs are a point of pride for the department and represent its deep commitment to the educational mission. Buckley is the training coordinator for the psychiatry, internal medicine/psychiatry, and addiction psychiatry residency programs. Tammy Bosshard supports the child and adolescent psychiatry residency program and Charlotte Iannaci is the training coordinator for the psychology internship, fellowships and the medical student clerkship.

Serving as the go-to people for their respective programs, Buckley, Bosshard and Iannaci help manage the nitty gritty, day-to-day operations of the department's educational offerings while also doing their best to help support the students and trainees aspiring to become physicians and clinicians.

Making it happen

While the program directors deserve the credit for their programs' successes, it's the dynamic trio of training coordinators operating often quietly, but always efficiently and effectively in the background, who keep everything running smoothly.

"The training programs are why we exist. We've spent the better part of the last quarter century building even better programs than we've ever had," said William Gabrielli, M.D. Ph.D., chair of the department. "There's a lot of pressure and expectations placed on the coordinators to keep the programs operating, and they don't complain. I don't think it would be possible for us to run these programs without them. They make it happen."

The training coordinators' never-boring mix of responsibilities guarantee a brisk pace and that no day is ever a carbon copy of another. A general rundown of those responsibilities includes, but is far from limited to, working with faculty to ensure evaluations of students and trainees are completed and properly documented; keeping track of student, trainee and faculty rotations and training sites; managing the application, interview and orientation processes for residency, internship and fellowship candidates; proctoring exams; planning and coordinating lectures, symposiums and special events such as graduation; and maintaining program information for multiple national databases.

They also act as important liaisons between the department and the training programs, faculty, and key groups such as the School of Medicine leadership and national organizations.

"The training coordinators' jobs are hard because they're asking already busy clinicians and physician scientists to give of their time to education, and they don't take no for an answer. They want the best for the programs so they're persistent and help us provide the best education we can offer," said Angela Mayorga, M.D., associate professor of psychiatry and psychiatry residency program director. "Our coordinators are the backbone of the education programs. Without them, things would surely fall apart."

Value added

Buckley joined the department as a training coordinator in 1999 after a stint as assistant to the chair of the Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery at KU Medical Center. She's proud of her service of 22 years - and counting - to the department, and that pride and appreciation are reciprocated by the department and the training programs she supports.

"Someone once said, ‘Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out,' and someone else noted, ‘We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.' Stacy makes the effort to help our residents and fellows be successful. Her smile and unique awesomeness inspire us to be successful," said Roopa Sethi, M.D., an assistant professor and director of the addition psychiatry fellowship program. "I don't want to miss this chance to thank Stacy for all she does to keep all of us coordinated. She is the reason for the success of our program."

Bosshard, who has been at KU Medical Center for 25 years and served as a training coordinator for the child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship since 2014, finds the role challenging yet deeply meaningful.

"I think people would be surprised at all the work that goes into keeping the program running," she said. "I would say meeting deadlines, staying organized and working with multiple faculty members is the most challenging part of the job, but the most rewarding part is working with the fellows."

Vital is one word that comes to mind for Sharon Cain, M.D., director of the child and adolescent psychiatry program, when she thinks of the role Bosshard plays.

"Tammy's role with the child psychiatry fellowship is vitally important. She is often the first contact for applicants to the program. Her warm, friendly approach and enthusiasm helps put applicants at ease and, during their training, fellows know that she is there to assist them," Cain said. "She's overall very supportive of me in my role as program director, helping with all the updates and duties related to the Office of Graduate Medical Education at KU Medical Center and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). I would not be able to do the job without her."

Meanwhile, Iannaci, now in her third year as a training coordinator, is hitting her stride managing third- and fourth-year medical students rotating through the psychiatry clerkship and supporting the psychology internship and fellowship programs. While the pandemic has created some special challenges, she has consistently focused on ensuring the best training experience for everyone. It's an effort that hasn't gone unnoticed.

"The relationships that are formed between the program leadership and the learners are very significant in the health of our programs. Charlotte has formed strong bonds with our trainees, which really helps. This is especially true in times when learners don't have the in-person contacts that help form cohesive groups. She makes people feel at home in the department," said Edward Hunter, Ph.D., ABPP, director of the psychology training programs.

Just like her counterparts, Iannaci finds working with the students and trainees the most gratifying part of the complex, busy role she fulfills.

"The most rewarding part of the job is really just working with students, getting to know them and understanding what's important to them, then trying to be of help, making things easy for them and helping them have a good experience while they're here," she said. "I love this department. I think I've definitely found my place."

Past and future

Not surprisingly, the training coordinator role and its demands have evolved over time. Lesley Leive, now an associate director with the department, spent 27 years overseeing the psychiatry clerkship. Over her nearly three decades, the program underwent numerous changes, including providing more content online and electronically as well as giving important makeovers to core activities like evaluations and grading.

"The most significant change was moving to a Pass/Fail grading system," said Leive, who noted the pandemic has prompted the clerkship to undergo another major shift with the introduction of remote learning. "The most rewarding part of the job was getting to work with a very diverse group of students, having the opportunity to get to know them and learn about their future goals."

With more national guidelines for students and residents and increased centralized monitoring of the training programs within the School of Medicine, the training coordinator role continues to change and expand.

"The ACGME now requires programs to pay attention to areas such as resident and trainee well-being that it didn't used to worry about. That does make things a little more difficult for the coordinators, who must balance lots of schedules and lots of information requests," Mayorga said.

A glimpse into future reveals the training coordinators will be an integral part of the success of the training programs and, more broadly, the department.

"The responsibilities of our training coordinators are going to continue to grow as the challenges on the trainees get more difficult, program expectations get more complicated, technology becomes more interwoven in our programs, and they continue to have to navigate our very complicated health system," Gabrielli said. "Our coordinators need to be special people with incredible interpersonal skills and each of them fits that description perfectly."

Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

University of Kansas Medical Center
Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Mailstop 4015
3901 Rainbow Boulevard
Kansas City, KS 66160
Phone: 913-588-6400
Fax: 913-588-6414