GME Distinction Program: Care Transformation through Innovation, Leadership & Discovery

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Dell Medical School's GME Distinction program provides selected residents with a unique opportunity to engage in a non-traditional, mentored learning experience with interdisciplinary colleagues. Participants will advance their leadership skills while exploring and discovering new possibilities in patient care and population health through design and innovation.

Program Structure

The Distinction program consists of two required components and one optional component:

Foundation Curriculum 
Residents will begin the program as a single cohort with a foundation curriculum. The foundation offers coursework that is atypical to traditional graduate medical education training and within the domains of design thinking, value-based care, leadership, and project stewardship. Learning formats will vary from face-to-face, interactive lectures, and workshops to asynchronous online modules.

Distinction Project 
Distinction projects will be individualized based on viability of each resident’s proposal and area of interest. Residents may design mentored projects working within the medical school on central institutional initiatives or within other colleges across the UT campus. Opportunities exist to develop value-based care proposals and group projects with medical students.

Optional Pathway Certificate 
At their option, participants may apply for a certificate program where they will earn credits toward an advanced degree. Options to be explored will be based on resident interest.  For example, a Distinction participant may opt to pursue a certificate in Public Health and earn credits toward an MPH.


Matriculation to the Distinction program begins in June of the intern year starting with the foundation curriculum. This two-year program concludes in May of Postgraduate Year (PGY) 3 with the presentation of a Distinction project at Dell Med's Research Day. Time for participation in the program will be protected from primary training responsibilities, but will be limited so as not to require an extension of training.

Participating Specialties

The Distinction program is initially available only to residents matching in General Surgery, Women’s Health (Obstetrics and Gynecology), Pediatrics, and Internal Medicine. 

Program Selection

Obstetrics and Gynecology, Internal Medicine, and Pediatrics candidates are matched to the program through the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP). Candidates must apply through the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) by selecting U Texas at Austin Dell Medical School; Austin, Texas; Specialty/Distinction. Interviews for the Distinction program will occur during the regular residency recruitment season.

Recruitment for General Surgery candidates will occur during the first half of the PGY 1 year. A participant will be selected from the pool of residents who have matched into this training program.

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Read what some of Dell Medical School’s leaders have to say about the GME Distinction Program:

Kevin Bozic, MD, MBA, Chair of Surgery & Perioperative Care:
"Through alignment with the Dell Medical School vision for creating a vital, inclusive health ecosystem, the GME Pursuit options offer trainees an opportunity to develop unique skills that will prepare them for the era of value-based health care."

Stacey ChangBeto Lopez, Co-founders of the Design Institute for Health:
"The Design Institute for Health is excited about the Dell Medical School’s new innovation track. We’re incorporating many aspects of design thinking into the curriculum, particularly those that get people to use their hands, gut, and heart, not just their brain."

Eddie Erlandson, MD, Leadership Advisor:
"The “new kind of physician leader,” can and must challenge some ingrained stereotypes, embrace new mindsets and resulting behaviors, and instill practices that will show meaningful results for patients, families, businesses and the community. The Dell Medical School GME Distinctions allow students to apply critical concepts to clinical care and research, and grow into physicians who can take on systemic challenges along with individual health issues."

William Tierney, MD, Chair of Population Health:
"Residency training after medical school has traditionally focused on providing high-quality, cost-effective care to the right person at the right time. It occurred entirely in hospitals and outpatient doctors’ offices. Yet the notion of caring for health ultimately goes beyond caring for individual patients in traditional health care venues. We should be teaching resident physicians and other young health professionals to be responsible for the health and wellbeing of all of the people within Austin and Travis County, which requires understanding the social and environment factors that affect health even more than genetics, accidents, and other random events. We should provide our post-graduate trainees with opportunities for engaging people and resources in the community that have not traditionally been part of the health care environment but are key to embracing our mission truly caring for the health of the people of Austin and Travis County."