Meet Elizabeth Ferguson, Alliance DIO
Elizabeth “Liz” Ferguson is originally from Minnesota. She came to Arizona to work after rotating at Maricopa Integrated Health System and Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center as a plastic surgery resident and falling in love with the desert. She is married to her best friend, Derek. They have a nearly 8-month-old son, JD. (“He’s really a Derek Junior, but we call him JD for Junior Derek.”). She enjoys travel, hiking, cooking, baking and reading whenever she has any time to spare (“which I no longer have!”).
She is one of two designated institutional officials (DIO) for the Alliance.
What do you do as DIO?
DIO is an ACGME designation for whomever is responsible for the oversight and administration of an institution’s residencies and fellowships. I work closely with program directors and staff to ensure they have the resources they need to administer the best program possible. The ACGME also tasks the DIO with overseeing the working and learning environment and serving as a liaison between hospital/University leadership and our programs, program leadership and learners.
What is your main priority in your role with the Alliance?
To facilitate the best education possible for all of our trainees. To advocate for residents and fellows, programs and our institutions. To improve communication amongst all parties. To ensure the best working and learning environment possible. To make sure our learners and educators all have what they need for personal and professional development. I don’t have ALL the answers, but we are fortunate to be surrounded by truly dedicated and talented folks who do!
What are the benefits of bringing together the GME programs of each institution into a single entity?
Both Dignity/SJHMC and MIHS have longstanding histories of providing exceptional training and producing physicians and surgeons from all disciplines to care for our patients. As we all come together in the Alliance, I believe we can do even more to raise the bar on GME in Arizona - produce even better physicians and surgeons, expand our educational offerings to ensure we are meeting the needs of our growing population and workforce, and to make our programs the best in the Southwest.
Tell us about your experiences in life and/or as a professional that led you to this position as DIO.
I was fortunate to be entrusted with the general surgery program at MIHS in 2012 by Dan Caruso. That first step started me on this path in GME and has truly become the opportunity of a lifetime. I believe my purpose is to help our learners find their path – to provide the highest-quality programs possible and make sure program directors have everything they need to help our trainees navigate their training. While I loved every second of being a program director – and am incredibly proud of my residents and the changes my team was able to make in the program – the challenge of educational administration at the institutional level is an exciting way to take that work to the next level. What an amazing opportunity to positively affect our community and the lives of our patients by making sure they have the best physicians and surgeons possible.