Three Years of ICPNT Accreditation: The Northwestern Experience

John F Bebawy, MD
Program Director, Neurosurgical Anesthesiology

John Bebawy, MD

From its inception, ICPNT has been a necessary and ambitious project to both standardize and unify the perioperative neuroscience fellowship experience across the world. The Neurosurgical Anesthesiology Fellowship at Northwestern University, in Chicago, has had a long history of clinical and academic excellence, and this was tangibly and significantly intensified when we became ICPNT accredited. We were very honored to be the first ICPNT-accredited fellowship in the world, but more so honored by being in the company of the other accredited programs (which hail from almost every continent), whose reputations precede themselves, and with whom we are now able to network and share our educational, clinical, research, and professional philosophies.

ICPNT accreditation for us has, as I see it, allowed us to grow in 3 main strategic areas: 1.) Recruitment and Retention, 2.) Program Validation, and 3.) Curriculum Development.

Recruitment and Retention

ICPNT accreditation, simply put, has made our fellowship more popular and desirable, both internally and externally. We have been able to attract a lot more attention from potential candidates for the fellowship, all over the world, and from our own residency, than prior to our ICPNT accredited designation. As we all know, there is a national shortage of subspecialty-trained Neuroanesthesiologists. We have successfully leveraged our accredited status to both attract fellows and hire them as future Neuroanesthesia faculty at our institution in the past 3 years.

Program Validation

While institutional regulations and provisions will vary, our GME office has afforded us certain benefits of other ACGME/CAST/etc. accredited fellowships, including administrative and financial support, because we are an accredited fellowship. While this also translates into a bit more paperwork, the trade-off has been well worth it! Fellowship applicants, in our experience, are now explicitly seeking ICPNT accredited fellowships (and asking for the official ICPNT logo on their diplomas, which ICPNT encourages).

Curriculum Development

ICPNT accreditation has “forced” us to examine our curricular structure, to refine it, and to willingly adhere to it more closely, providing more structure, and in some cases more flexibility in what we can offer our fellows. It has validated our curriculum in that we know that we are providing the educational experience that is considered “the standard of care” across the most elite institutions. Likewise, ICPNT (and SNACC) online and virtual resources have become a standard part of our didactic curriculum (e.g., the Neuroanesthesia Classroom, ICPNT live and archived webinars). Lastly, through these activities, we have had the pleasure of networking with the other accredited programs, all over the world, to learn what they do better than us, both clinically and academically, which has led us to modify our own curriculum to provide an overall more complete learning experience.

It is not too ambitious to say that ICPNT accreditation has honestly turned our great Neuroanesthesia Fellowship Program, of which I’m very proud, into an exceptional one.


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