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History of Courage & Renewal in Health Care

The new professional is a person who can say, “In the midst of the powerful force-field of institutional life, where so much might compromise the core values of my work, I have found firm ground on which to stand—the ground of personal and professional identity and integrity—ground from which I can call myself, my colleagues, and my workplace back to our true mission.” — Parker J. Palmer

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In 1998 Parker Palmer, founder and Senior Partner of the Center for Courage & Renewal, was invited to give a keynote address, “A Movement Model of Social Change” for the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Annual National Forum on Quality Improvement in Health Care. In his address, Parker traced the movement from making a personal decision to live “divided no more,” with our souls aligned with our work, to how a group of like-minded people effect positive social change.

That address, along with Parker’s seminal book, The Courage to Teach, sparked interest from the health care sector in Courage & Renewal and was followed in 2001 by the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) establishing the Parker J. Palmer Courage to Teach and, subsequently, the Parker J. Palmer Courage to Lead Awards for residency program directors, programs that continue to this day. As ACGME says, Parker J. Palmer’s book The Courage to Teach and his concept of “living divided no more” has proven relevant to teaching in academic health centers.


2013 ACGME Award Winners

The ACGME Parker J. Palmer Courage to Teach Award honors program directors who find innovative ways to teach residents and to provide quality health care while remaining connected to the initial impulse to care for others in this environment.

The ACGME Parker J. Palmer Courage to Lead Award honors designated institutional officials who have demonstrated excellence in overseeing residency programs at their sponsoring institutions. Designated institutional officials, or DIOs, have authority and responsibility for all graduate medical education programs in a teaching hospital, community hospital or other type of institution that sponsors residency programs.

In 2013, ACGME reported that 121 residency program directors have received the Courage to Teach Award and 23 designated institutional officials have received the Courage to Lead Award.  Thus, 144 graduate medical education educators have received these awards.  Since 2003, ACGME has held 10 retreats, and for the first time in 2013,  had a special Courage to Teach session for the Courage to Teach and Lead awardees at the ACGME’s annual Educational Conference. ACGME is planning a similar event for 2014.  ACGME currently accredits over 9000 programs.

In November 2011 at the Association of American Medical College’s annual meeting, Parker received the Gold Foundation’s Humanism in Medicine award and delivered the annual lecture, “Healing, Healthcare, and the Broken Heart.”

See all upcoming programs in health care.

Today there are a growing number of Courage & Renewal facilitators offering health care programs, workshops and services across the country. Hundreds of health care leaders have participated in Courage & Renewal programs, and the principles and practices of the Center for Courage & Renewal have been applied in organizations across the nation to transform health care education and delivery.

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