Common Program Requirements

The Learning and Working Environment (Duty Hours)

Clinically-Driven Standards

The ACGME Common Program Requirements are in place to ensure that ACGME-accredited specialty and subspecialty programs follow a basic, consistent set of standards in training and preparing resident and fellow physicians.

The requirements set the context within clinical learning environments for development of the skills, knowledge, and attitudes necessary to take personal responsibility for the individual care of patients. In addition, they facilitate an environment where residents and fellows can interact with patients under the guidance and supervision of qualified faculty members who give value, context, and meaning to those interactions.

The ACGME began its scheduled review of the Common Program Requirements in the fall of 2015. Phase 1 addressed Section VI of these requirements only, and was overseen by a Task Force assembled for its expertise to review the existing requirements and propose revisions. Following ACGME process, the proposed requirements were posted for public comment between October and December 2016. The revised requirements were then presented to the ACGME Board of Directors for consideration for approval in February 2017. Section VI of the Common Program Requirements was approved and goes into effect July 1, 2017. A second Task Force is currently reviewing Sections I-V of the Common Program Requirements, and review will follow the same procedures, with an anticipated effective date of July 1, 2018.

The requirements were revised to reflect that residency/fellowship education must occur in a learning and working environment that fosters excellence in the safety and quality of patient care. With that priority as their foundation, highlights of the changes include: 

  • greater emphasis on patient safety and quality improvement
  • a dedicated section addressing the critical importance of physician well-being to graduate medical education and patient care
  • more explicit requirements regarding team-based care a framework for clinical and educational work hours that allow for flexibility with a maximum toward the ultimate goals of physician education and patient care